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    Hard Ground (Hardback) Photographs by Michael O'Brien, Text by Tom Waits

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    DescriptionMichael O'Brien got out of his car one day in 1975 and sought the acquaintance of a man named John Madden who lived under an overpass. Their initial contact grew into a friendship that O'Brien chronicled for the Miami News, where he began his career as a staff photographer. O'Brien's photo essays conveyed empathy for the homeless and the disenfranchised and won two Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards. In 2006, O'Brien reconnected with the issue of homelessness and learned the problem has grown exponentially since the 1970s, with as many as 3.5 million adults and children in America experiencing homelessness at some point in any given year. In Hard Ground, O'Brien joins with renowned singer-songwriter Tom Waits, described by the New York Times as "the poet of outcasts," to create a portrait of homelessness that impels us to look into the eyes of people who live "on the hard ground" and recognize our common humanity. For Waits, who has spent decades writing about outsiders, this subject is familiar territory. Combining their formidable talents in photography and poetry, O'Brien and Waits have crafted a work in the spirit of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, in which James Agee's text and Walker Evans's photographs were "coequal, mutually independent, and fully collaborative" elements. Letting words and images communicate on their own terms, rather than merely illustrate each other, Hard Ground transcends documentary and presents independent, yet powerfully complementary views of the trials of homelessness and the resilience of people who survive on the streets.

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  • Full bibliographic data for Hard Ground

    Hard Ground
    Authors and contributors
    Photographs by Michael O'Brien, Text by Tom Waits
    Physical properties
    Format: Hardback
    Number of pages: 184
    Width: 239 mm
    Height: 305 mm
    Thickness: 28 mm
    Weight: 1,429 g
    ISBN 13: 9780292726499
    ISBN 10: 029272649X

    BIC geographical qualifier V2: 1KBB
    B&T Book Type: NF
    BIC E4L: PHO
    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: T1.4
    B&T Modifier: Region of Publication: 01
    B&T Modifier: Academic Level: 05
    BIC subject category V2: AJCR
    B&T General Subject: 620
    B&T Approval Code: A06402700
    Warengruppen-Systematik des deutschen Buchhandels: 15870
    BISAC V2.8: SOC045000
    BIC subject category V2: JFFB
    B&T Modifier: Geographic Designator: 01
    B&T Modifier: Text Format: 03
    Ingram Subject Code: AP
    Libri: I-AP
    B&T Merchandise Category: UP
    B&T Approval Code: A26250000
    BISAC V2.8: PHO016000, PHO014000
    LC subject heading:
    BIC subject category V2: 1KBB
    DC22: 362.50973
    LC classification: HV4505 .O25 2011
    LC subject heading: ,
    DC22: 779.936250973
    BISAC region code:
    Thema V1.0: JBFD, AJF
    Illustrations note
    88 b&w photographs, 74 b&w thumbnails
    University of Texas Press
    Imprint name
    University of Texas Press
    Publication date
    13 April 2011
    Publication City/Country
    Austin, TX
    Review quote
    "...this is a powerful book..." Guardian 10 June 2011 "Other collections of lost souls (Richard Avedon's In the American West comes to mind) are different... We meet O'Brien's people one on one. Their 'otherness' is removed. The photographs engender compassion and empathy. If that sounds simple, it is because it is simple. And, as you know, being simple is very, very difficult. Hard Ground is a rare and powerful book." JOHN LOENGARD Life magazine photographer and picture editor, and one of American Photo magazine's "100 most influential people in photography" "If I can think of a book to relate to this one, it would be James Agee and Walker Evans's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. That book was photographed in 1936--during the Great Depression--and published in 1941. It had an enormous influence--and still does--on the way photography and writing can work together as a catalyst for social change... I think Hard Ground has this potential." MARY ELLEN MARK internationally renowned photographer and author of sixteen books, including Seen Behind the Scene, Exposure, and Twins