by Michael Eastman
In shops May 2008
Earlier this week, W.W. Norton published Fareed Zakaria’s book, “The Post-American World.” You can refer to the cover story of NEWSWEEK for the Cliff’s Notes if you like… When you’ve picked your jaw up after soaking in the facts and figures from that one (the America of today and the not-so-distant future), take a look at this luminous photobook for a look backward. Michael Eastman’s images in “Vanishing America” capture the charm of yesteryear’s small-town Americana. The movie houses, the churches, the diners…the Main Street U.S.A. that has all but evaporated as cars, malls and the internet have locked their sticky fingers on us. You’ll see gorgeous shots of gas stations and bowling alleys, but not so many actual people. These are all the places where we once convened as Americans, back in those Norman Rockwell, aw-shucks, chocolate malts and Coca-Cola years. It was this country’s answer to the piazza or the (literal) watering hole. Nowadays, people don’t so much convene anymore. We do that on the computer now – even on blogs like this one. But we did once, and it was a beautiful thing. If you’re a lover of photography or the American experience, this is a fantastic addition to your coffee table.