Picks and Pans Review: The Fifties

UPDATED 05/13/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/13/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT

by various photographers

Whatever else they were, the 1950s can hardly be considered forgotten any longer. The only real text here is a brief introduction by John Chancellor, who suggests that "...to look at the 1950s...is to see the decade as a great passage from one style of American life to another, a journey not so much in time as in culture." The collection of photographs, all shot for the Magnum agency and chosen by editors Lee Jones and Tom Brazil, is striking. There is Dennis Stock's portrait of James Dean walking alone, huddled in his overcoat, through a chilly-looking Times Square. There is General Douglas MacArthur's welcome in San Francisco upon his return from Korea, photographed by Wayne Miller. There are Bruce Davidson's bleak Brooklyn gang pictures, Burt Glinn's shot of the launching of the Vanguard satellite, Costa Manos' terrifying Ku Klux Klan series, Eve Arnold's harsh photo of Joan Crawford at a Pepsi-Cola board meeting, Cornell Capa's mirthful portrait of the bunny hop. For those younger folk who have wondered what their parents—and perhaps even their grandparents—had in mind when they talked about the '50s, fabulous and otherwise, this book is a vivid guide to an era. (Pantheon, paper, $14.95)

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