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Historian Michael Lesy, author of Wisconsin Death Trip, has produced another haunting volume with Dreamland. The book chronicles a day in the life of America at the turn of the 20th century, an optimistic, peaceful time. Lesy chose 208 black-and-white pictures from the archive of the Detroit Publishing Company, the hugely successful postcard business. The images depict skyscrapers under construction, bustling urban streets, farmers and dusty country roads, and the glories of the newly charted American West, with its cowboys, miners, and distant prairie towns. The atmosphere of order and calm portrayed in the photographs is deceptive, as Lesy's thoughtful essays reveal.
The New Yorker
Poignantly contrasting with the serenity of the photos are thumbnail histories of the time's roiling social, political, and cultural changes....
Superb.... It's remarkable how much has change--and how little.
Los Angeles Times
Eloquent.... A strange thing that photos of so much blight should possess so much beauty.
A stunning statement about life in the early 1900s.
Amazing.... From Eastern factories to Western vistas, Dreamland is a remarkable visual record of an era.
San Diego Union-Tribune
Compelling.... A vision [of the past] akin to Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
A wonderful gift.
The whole panoply of turn-of-the-century American subjects appears here, bringing with it a long-forgotten but still-comforting air of national confidence.
Striking [and] provocative.... Like Henry Adams, Michael Lesy comes to history bearing a disappointed lover's load of longing and loss.
A haunting look at America at the beginning of the century, fro ma cult favorite. A hit from coast to coast when it was published last year in hardcover, Michael Lesy's breathtaking view of the beginning of the twentieth century is now available in an affordable paperback edition. One of the most fascinating photographic explorations of the American past in years, Dreamland features 200 photographs taken between 1900 and 1910 that capture the extraordinary vigor and high hopes of those years. The photographs were culled from a single postcard company collection by acclaimed photo historian Michael Lesy, whose cult hit Wisconsin Death Trip (1974) has been praised as "an American classic" by National Geographic and "a small masterpiece of the historian's art" by the Chicago Daily News.