Born of a desire to follow the seasons up and down America, and equally to find lyricism in contemporary American life despite all its dark histories, American Prospects has enjoyed a life of acclaim. Its pages are filled with unexpected excitement, despair, tenderness and hope. Its fears are expressed in beauty, its sadnesses in irony. Oddly enough, the society it seems to presage has now come to be; oddly enough, the ideas of this book bespeak our present moment.
Often out of print, this new edition of Joel Sternfeld’s seminal book returns to the format of the original 1987 edition. All of the now classic images within it—alongside a group of never published photographs—examine a once pristine land stewarded by indigenous peoples who needed no lessons in stewardship, and a land now occupied by a mix of peoples hoping for salvation within the fraught paths of late capitalism. The result suggests a vast nation whose prospects have much to do with global prospects, a “teenager of the world” unaware of its strengths, filled with idealism and frequent failings. These pictures see all but judge not.