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And Their Children After Them: The Legacy of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: James Agee, Walker Evans, and the Rise and Fall of Cotton in the South
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And Their Children After Them: The Legacy of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: James Agee, Walker Evans, and the Rise and Fall of Cotton in the South

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  166 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
In And Their Children After Them, the writer/photographer team Dale Maharidge and Michael Williamson return to the land and families captured in James Agee and Walker Evans’s inimitable Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, extending the project of conscience and chronicling the traumatic decline of King Cotton. With this continuation of Agee and Evans’s project, Maharidge and Wil ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published November 4th 2008 by Seven Stories Press (first published 1989)
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Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was originally published in 1941 and sold only six hundred copies the first year. When it went out of print in 1948 it had sold only a little over a thousand copies and no more were printed. At least, none before a decision was made to re-issue it in 1960. It was then that it was stamped with the label "classic."

Written by James Agee, with photographs taken by Walker Evans, it attempted to document in words and pictures the plight of poor cotton tenant farm families
Apr 01, 2009 Vanessa rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was fantastic. Where I found "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" to be slightly tedious and the language to be ridiculously flowery in places, this book was straightforward. It briefly told the story of its predecessor, then expounded. The writers exposed the effects that the poverty had on following generations. James Agee's personal issues and motivations were also mentioned, which made some of his own writing seem a little more clear. I found the person of Garvrin Arlo to be pa ...more
Jul 23, 2011 Jon added it
I admit it--I've never been able to get through James Agee's LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN. (Gore Vidal agreed with me, for what that's worth.) Agee's clotted, pseudo-Faulkner prose always seemed like the ultimate insult to the sharecroppers he was writing about: not only did these people lead wretched lives, but when a journalist took an interest in them, he turned out not to be a good writer. (Agee's film reviews are all I can stand of him.) I would have preferred a more straightforward reporto ...more
Maureen Stanton
Nov 28, 2012 Maureen Stanton rated it really liked it
This is an interesting account, which looks back at James Agee's and Walker Evan's book, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, offering a context and history for that project (and some criticism), while also furthering the exploration by looking at the lives the next generation. This books is not hyper-lyrical like Agee's, but it's solidly researched and very well written. A fascinating account that illuminates Agee's project while shedding more light on the history and sociocultural aspects of rural so ...more
Jun 01, 2013 Dachokie rated it really liked it
Shelves: sociology
The Plight Continues …

After being mesmerized by the snapshot presented in “Cotton Tenants” (the publishing of James Agee’s original Fortune magazine article detailing three Alabama cotton farming families in 1936 and the basis for his book “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men”), I was compelled to find out what happened to those families after Agee’s visit. AND THEIR CHILDREN AFTER THEM illustrates the depressing post-Agee lives of those families as well highlighting the destitution and racial divide t
Apr 28, 2013 Chad rated it really liked it
The realities that Maharidge writes about in this book are just that for a lot of people, reality. I found his writing to be very honest and poignant in most cases. The way he brings these people, their towns, their lives to light, is done so in a way as not to lift them up or beat them down. The lives they've led are real. They are much more interesting than any literary spin could have made them.

I grew up in Alabama. While we were not sharecroppers or remotely in the situation that the people
Joan Colby
May 14, 2010 Joan Colby rated it liked it
A follow-up 50 years later to “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.” The book contains updated photos of some of the original characters and sites and the authors tracked down members of the Gudger, Wood and Ricketts families to relate how their lives turned out. Most didn’t turn out very well as one might expect. Some of the descendants were bitter about the earlier book that portrayed them as desperately poor and illiterate; however, some are still in that deplorable state. Others advanced a bit, or ...more
Michael Neno
Jan 03, 2014 Michael Neno rated it liked it
Shelves: james-agee
This sort-of sequel to James Agee and Walker Evans' classic book doesn't have the poetry, forcefulness, attention to detail, experimentalism or passionate rage that Let Us Now Praise Famous Men did. It's a much more straight forward piece of journalism. If you're curious to know what happened next to the families Agee described, though, the book is must reading. And Their Children After Them also gives an insightful overview of the history of cotton growing in America and, in particular, Alabama ...more
Mrs. Scott
Dec 21, 2015 Mrs. Scott rated it really liked it
Introspective truth-telling...never belittles its subjects but tracks the lives shown in Agee's work over several decades while economics conspired against them.... I found this hard to read, hard to return to reading. Sobering truths of hopes held and hopes dashed. I will mourn Maggie Louise (Billie Jo!) for a long time. I love the honest account of journalistic tendencies to get an easy story--this account avoids that and gives us complicated, real people.
Jackie G
Jul 10, 2014 Jackie G rated it it was amazing
This was a terrific follow up to the Agee/Walker classic. I really appreciated that Maharidge focused on the people -- the families -- and that he included the black sharecropper experience to rectify the shortsighted choice made by Agee's editors to exclude them from his research.
Nov 26, 2016 Wendolyn rated it really liked it
I liked the concept of a follow-up, and found this book MUCH more interesting and readable than the original, whose motives and honesty are questioned in this second, Pulitzer prize winning book. The writing flows. It's honest and respectful. They returned to the South 50 years after the writer and photographer visited during the Depression.

I appreciated the background on cotton, as it is a character in these histories and gives great perspective.
- "I found there had once been nine million cott
This is an average book on its own terms, but a failure as it relates to Agee. It’s strange situation, the people who actually take the time to write about Agee don't appear to understand his work at all.

The biggest problem here is that Maharidge sets out to correct Agee’s narrative in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. He writes, “Agee was convinced, or convinced himself, that he was seeing [the tenant farmers] for what they really were.” The goal, then, is to set the record straight. Of course, Ma
A follow-up to Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, this book is actually much more readable.

A very interesting (and disturbing) book looking at many of the people in the original--what happened to the adults, and the children as they grew up. Obviously, not all wanted anything to do with this book. But that is OK.

I appreciated the addition of landowners--from a small-time landowner like Bridges, to the larger holders.

The authors also take an interesting look at how the landowners blame civil rights a
Jul 24, 2007 Michael rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was mildly disappointing. I haven't read the Agee work, so maybe I'm missing something, but I think Maharidge really just skims the surface of his subject. He doesn't give any real insight into the characters and he doesn't follow them close enough or for long enough for us to get to know them. I will say that he lets some of the scenes unfold themselves in a slow, beautiful way, especially those involving Debbie - Maggie Louise's daughter.

All in all this was a good read and about a lifest
Oct 01, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book only makes sense if you have read "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" first. This book follows up on the three families, and you find out what happens to the children & grandchildren 50 years after the original book was written. Some success stories, but mostly heartbreak. The story about the man on the cover is so horrible, I couldn't help but reread LUNPFM to look for clues as to how that family got to that point. After recently reading "Cotton Tenants", I will probably be rereading t ...more
Nov 01, 2016 Terragyrl3 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book, a must-read if you have even one ancestor that worked The Land. The author traces the descendants of the white cotton tenant farmers first profiled by James Agee during the Depression, to see whether their lots are better than tenant lives during the glory of King Cotton. The author explains where hillbillies come from; and that poor flatlanders identify three kinds of poverty: the Lord's poor, the Devil's poor, and people who couldn't be anything different than poor. Individual st ...more
Tanya Faberson
Aug 09, 2008 Tanya Faberson rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing. I recommend it to anyone who's ever read "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men." You really should read Agee and Evan's book first, though, if you haven't. It relates everything to Famous Men and wouldn't make much sense if you haven't read it. I loved both books. They detail the lives of three cotton tenant/sharecropper families in 1936 (Agee and Evans), followed by an account of where and how the remaining members of the original families and their descendants were in 1986 (Maha ...more
George King
Nov 29, 2013 George King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love books that explore the American Experience and this is one of those book. It explores trhe side of America that isn't pretty causes you to reflect on who the bad guys really are; if there are any at all. It's probably a book that was read frequently when it came out and yet for me it is a book that every American should read because it is a book about yesterday with implication for society today.
May 28, 2016 Luke rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Depressing Southern poverty mid-century as cotton tenant farming ends. Landowners and tenants all trapped in debt and ill-education and changing technology elsewhere. Difficult background of selective observation, journalism, and exploitation of Alabama stereotypes.
Apr 05, 2009 Susan rated it liked it
This book was actually 3 1/2 stars, because I love the original book so much, and it was interesting to read about what happened to the original characters. The author did a decent job of updating a non-fiction classic. He had respect for his subjects, as well as the original work of James Agee.
Jan 25, 2008 David rated it it was ok
A perfect example of an unnecessary sequel. Just reinforces the classic status of the first book.
Stephen Lovell
May 05, 2010 Stephen Lovell rated it did not like it
Informative, but in my opinion too much, sad, can't completely live up to it's predecessor
Lenny Husen
Mar 10, 2013 Lenny Husen rated it it was amazing
I read the first edition of this book, way back in the 1990's, and regrettably, I loaned it to someone who never gave it back. The photos are amazing and I'm sure this edition is great too.
Jan 20, 2008 Stephanie rated it it was ok
Really only recommended for those who become obsessed with Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.
Jul 01, 2010 Heidi rated it really liked it
This is the follow up book to Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. The authors went back to the south to find family members that were written about in the original story.
Julia rated it really liked it
Aug 04, 2008
Alexis rated it really liked it
Aug 20, 2013
Mar 24, 2008 Beth rated it really liked it
This book won the Pulitzer prize for Non-fiction in 1991- so far very interesting and sad.
Peter Van Buren
Peter Van Buren rated it really liked it
Feb 04, 2014
Ammar rated it it was amazing
May 17, 2016
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I'm an Associate Professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. I've published nine books, including And Their Children After Them, which won the 1990 non-fiction Pulitzer Prize. My tenth book will be published in March 2013--Bringing Mulligan Home/The Other Side of the Good War (PublicAffairs). Also this spring will see the publication of the paperback edition of Someplace Like ...more
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“Maggie Louise sat in a hardback chair, holding her baby brother, Squinchy, and her eyes fell upon Agee. There was something about the eyes of Maggie Louise that caught him the first time they met. They were 'temperature less, keen, serene, and wise and pure gray eyes,' Agee said, and they seemed to look everywhere and see into things. To look into the eyes of Maggie Louise was 'scary as hell, and even more mysterious than frightening,' said Agee. She knew she'd like him and he her.” 0 likes
“There was, however, a fundamental difference - namely, that Maggie Louise, at least at that point in her life, had the ability to be satisfied, which, while different from being happy, is essential in finding contentment. In this regard, there may be two kinds of people, or perhaps, more accurately, two extremes, and if so, Agee and Maggie Louise represented them.” 0 likes
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