Picks and Pans Review: In America

updated 01/09/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/09/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Eve Arnold

"I wanted America to sit for an informal, intimate portrait," writes photographer Arnold in her introduction. To that end, after 20 years of living and working abroad, the Philadelphia-born Arnold spent two years traveling in 36 states for the pictures that make up this extraordinary book. It opens with a photograph of a young woman playing a fife on Independence Day in Bucksport, Maine and closes with a jetliner climbing over rows of pastel-colored houses in Daly City, Calif. In between are such pictures as a lovely scene of a family saying the dinner blessing in Whitesburg, Ky., a shopping mall in Santa Monica, Calif., a hairy male stripper in a Union, N.J. club called Sneaky Pete's, a Navajo matriarch in Window Rock, Ariz. Perhaps one reason this collection is so vivid is, as Arnold suggests, that she came to the project after producing her much-praised volume of photographs on China. The two books cast light on utterly different societies. (Knopf, $35)

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