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Wisconsin Death Trip (1973)

by Michael Lesy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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593731,369 (3.93)24
First published in 1973, this remarkable book about life in a small turn-of-the-century Wisconsin town has become a cult classic. Lesy has collected and arranged photographs taken between 1890 and 1910 by a Black River Falls photographer, Charles Van Schaik.
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» See also 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy, based on a collection of late 19th century photographs by Jackson County, Wisconsin, photographer Charles Van Schaick – mostly taken in the city of Black River Falls – and local news reports from the same period. It emphasizes the harsh aspects of Midwestern rural life under the pressures of crime, disease, mental illness, and urbanization.
The book was adapted into a film in 1999
  petervanbeveren | Aug 4, 2020 |
Creepy yet mesmerising! ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Aug 1, 2020 |
No idea how to rate this other than "grand;" it's still settling into my mind.
  KatrinkaV | Sep 23, 2016 |
This book had considerable impact on photographers and scholars, not all of whom approved of its approach. Lesy took all his material from the collection of one local photographer and from reports of the same local's newspaper. The news clips record the unfortunate and disastrous consequences of the human condition. Lots of fires and murders. The photographic record is typical of a highly competent small town late 19th century artist who often left the studio to record the belongings and doings of his customers. Sometimes Lesy creates mirror images or montages of his historic photographs rather than giving them straight. Lesy makes his point - not all was idyllic in this supposed bucolic time and place.
2 vote j-b-colson | Jan 26, 2011 |
Amazing compilation of news items and photos supporting the premise that all is not rosy in the rural parts of America in the late 1800's. Recounts depression, suicide, abuse. This was the catalyst for the writing of the novel, "The Reliable Wife." ( )
  SignoraEdie | Feb 12, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Lesyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Susman, Warren I.Prefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van Schaick, CharlesPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my mother and father. With special thanks to Bill Williams, Warren Susman, Paul Vanderbilt, Marsha Peters, Lillian Frary, Sal Sebastian, the Doanes, Morris Edelson, Heidi von Schreiner, Mark Knops, Jon Reilly, Donald Hilgenberg, Caroline Hoffman, Elizabeth Spalter
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Writing over a hundred years ago, Hippolyte Taine congratulated those fellow historians who had preceded him for making "the first step in history" leading to a "revival of imagination" through a reconstruction of the past, no matter how incomplete, that enabled them to "see approximately the men of other days."
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First published in 1973, this remarkable book about life in a small turn-of-the-century Wisconsin town has become a cult classic. Lesy has collected and arranged photographs taken between 1890 and 1910 by a Black River Falls photographer, Charles Van Schaik.

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