American Pictures: A Personal Journey Through the American Underclass

Title: American Pictures: A Personal Journey Through the American Underclass

Author: Jacob Holdt

Publisher: American Pictures Foundation

Publication Year: 1985

ISBN: 8798170244

American Pictures offers a shattering firsthand vision of an America that few whites have ever seen. From 1971 to 1976, Jacob Holdt, a Dane, hitchhiked across more than 100,000 miles of America on only $40. Traveling as a vagabond, he lived with some 350 families in forty-eight states. Most of these people were poverty-stricken blacks, Southern migrant workers, and the criminals and destitute of ghettos in the urban North. The reports Holdt sent his parents at the outset of his trip sounded so unbelievable that they sent him a camera. Then by selling his blood plasma twice a week at blood banks, Holdt was able to afford film. The outcome of this remarkable journey was 15,000 pictures, which have been made into a multimedia presentation seen by more than one million people in thirteen European countries. It is now being shown in the U.S.A. The proceeds have been spent on school construction and farm equipment in Africa. American Pictures, written at the journey's end, contains some 700 of these photographs and has been a runaway bestseller throughout Europe. In this illustrated odyssey, Holdt describes his experiences at the Wounded Knee uprising, with drug addicts in 'shooting galleries,' and in projects with welfare mothers. He also depicts the friendships he developed with transvestites and transsexuals; the violence and murders he witnessed; his own arrest by the FBI; and his startling encounters with the opposite extreme of American society, including Jay Rockefeller and Ted Kennedy. American Pictures is a forceful reminder that the poverty and inhuman living conditions which were so brilliantly exposed almost one hundred years ago by Holdt's fellow Dane, Jacob A. Riis, in his classic study, 'How the Other Half Lives', continue to exist. Yet, the positive aspects of America, especially the warmth and hospitality of the American people, enabled Jacob Holdt to come away from his experiences clearly loving the country

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