A Day in the Life of America

Rick Smolan, Author, David W. Cohen, Photographer
Rick Smolan, Author, David W. Cohen, Photographer Collins Publishers $45 (268p) ISBN 978-0-00-217705-4
Reviewed on: 09/29/1986
Release date: 10/01/1986
The latest, and by far the most ambitious, in the A Day in the Life seriesthat the enterprising team of Smolan and Cohen have put together in recent years is at once extremely substantial and unexpectedly light. In weight and size it is a hefty blockbuster; but the more than 250 pictures, mostly in color, generally avoid the kind of heavy-breathing grandiosity and flowery patriotism the titleand the timesmight indicate. The formula, as spelled out in Smolan's letter to the hundreds of participating photographers from all around the world, is simple: on one dayin this case last May 2they fan out all over the country and shoot what takes their fancy. The more than a quarter-million shots that result are then edited down to the final book. There is little structure, other than that the book begins at dawn and ends late at night. The captions vary in length and cogency, and there is a longish self-congratulatory section at the end of the book about the many skills needed to bring it off. But it is the pictures themselves that count, and they are for the most part impressive. There is a welcome emphasis on people at work rather than on scenery, and a minimum of gimmickry and obviously set-up shots; it is good, too, to see handsome black-and-white images in a book of this scope. It is easy to imagine this having the same kind of success The Family of Man had 30 years ago. 315,000 first printing; first serial to Newsweek; BOMC alternate; author tour. (October 15)
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