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Is This Place Great Or What, Brian Ulrich Published by Aperture
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Is This Place Great Or What, Brian Ulrich Published by Aperture
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The Best Photobooks About America

Jul 01, 2016

For Independence Day, TIME compiled a list of some of the best photobooks from, and about, America. While Robert Frank’s The Americans and Walker Evan’s American Photographs hold their places as classic and iconic books in the history of American publications, the titles featured here are contemporary additions to the canon of great American photobooks.

Martin Parr's selection of the State University of New York 71/72 Torch Book – the school's yearbook – features photographs that show the charged political environment from that time. Lesley Martin’s choice of New American Haircuts offers an authentic view into the hair culture of New York in the 1980s. The groundbreaking A Shimmer of Possibility from Paul Graham stands as a new take of showing the American landscape. While Paul Moakley’s select of Peter Van Agtmeal’s Disco Night Sept. 11 is an emotional and dense recount of America’s history in the context of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

This selection confirms the multi-faceted role of photobooks and the many ways in which powerful stories can be told through images in print. From small zines and impromptu collaborations, to the tradition of collecting one's travels, all of these titles hold something in common: the rich and immense contribution photography has brought to American culture.

Cassidy Paul is a contributor for TIME LightBox. Follow her on Instagram.

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