Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits

Linda Gordon (Author)


We all know Dorothea Lange's iconic photos the Migrant Mother holding her child, the shoeless children of the Dust Bowl but now renowned American historian Linda Gordon brings them to three-dimensional life in this groundbreaking exploration of Lange's transformation into a documentarist. Using Lange's life to anchor a moving social history of twentieth-century America, Gordon masterfully re-creates bohemian San Francisco, the Depression, and the Japanese-American internment camps. Accompanied by more than one hundred images many of them previously unseen and some formerly suppressed Gordon has written a sparkling, fast-moving story that testifies to her status as one of the most gifted historians of our time. Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; a New York Times Notable Book; New Yorker's A Year's Reading; and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book."

Product Details

$24.95  $22.95
W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date
October 11, 2010
6.1 X 1.6 X 9.1 inches | 2.2 pounds

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About the Author

Linda Gordon, winner of two Bancroft Prizes and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, is the author of The Second Coming of the KKK, Dorothea Lange and Impounded, and the coauthor of Feminism Unfinished. She is the Florence Kelley Professor of History at New York University and lives in New York and Madison, Wisconsin.


A riveting, massively researched biography of a remarkable woman and great photographer. It's also an invaluable, cultural history of America from San Francisco's Bohemia of the 1920s to the Great Depression through WWII. Gordon tells us some amazing stories of such legendary photographers as the 'Migrant Mother,' and she also documents Lange's study of the Japanese-Americans and their oppressive internment camps. This is an absolutely fascinating study and a must read. -- Patricia Bosworth, author of Diane Arbus: The Biography
Linda Gordon, one of our greatest historians, gives us an engrossing portrait of Dorothea Lange. Every page of this magisterial biography sparkles with insight into Lange's life, passions, photographic techniques and achievements-and into the lives of the dispossessed farmers, unemployed laborers, and incarcerated Japanese-Americans who were her greatest subjects. -- George Chauncey, author of Gay New York
An astonishing and deeply moving biography of Dorothea Lange, America's foremost social photographer. No other account can rival this one for its engagement or for its dissection of the passions, injuries, and hopes that impelled Lange to challenge the boundaries of gender, race, and family. Linda Gordon writes about her complex subject with sophistication, frankness, and sensitivity. In the process, Gordon demonstrates yet again that she is among the most gifted and probing historians of our time. -- Gary Gerstle, author of American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century
As Dorothea Lange's biographer, Linda Gordon is fortunate that Lange's private life was as complex-exceptional yet archetypal-as the history she documented in her photographs. The resulting book is superb social history rendered through a remarkable artist and personality. -- Diane McWhorter, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Carry Me Home
A richly human portrait of the eminent photographer whose luminous Depression-era images had the democratizing impact of a Steinbeck novel. "
Gordon's elegant biography is a testament to Lange's gift for challenging her country to open its eyes. "
The material is fascinating, and [the] presentation sterling. "