Magnum America The United States

Magnum Photos, Peter van Agtmael, Laura Wexler

An epic visual history of the places, people, mythologies, and realities of the United States across eight decades from the renowned photography collective Magnum Photos.

What is "America"? What does it look like? Where can it be found? What does "America" mean and for whom? This ambitious publication does not attempt to present a comprehensive photographic history of the United States but uses the stories and photographs in the Magnum Archive to offer potential answers to those questions. In doing so, it presents a compelling visual portrait of the USA, past and present, as it stands once again at a crossroads of history.

Magnum America is arranged into decade-by-decade chapters from the 1940s to the present day. Each chapter includes individual "Moments" capturing that decade; deeper views through "Collective Portfolios" where multiple Magnum photographers documented a major historic event; and long-form, story-led individual portfolios that examine issues, peoples, and events as portrayed by Magnum photographers. Commentaries and texts appear throughout and there are innovative metadata visualizations based on the Magnum archives, highlighting the multiple voices and perspectives that define both Magnum and the United States.

The book looks beyond the fifty states to invite us to consider the concept of "America as Empire," with military and political adventures and misadventures abroad, including Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as soft power and "America" as a cultural export.

Breathtaking in scope and abundant with the photographic riches and intelligent, insightful authorship for which Magnum’s photographers are renowned, as well as texts by Professor Laura Wexler alongside other contributing writers, Magnum America is a vital contribution to the documentation of contemporary American history and a future classic.


Magnum Photos


Magnum Photos, the world's most prestigious photographic agency, was formed in 1947.

Peter van Agtmael

Edited By

Peter van Agtmael is a Magnum photographer. His books include Look at the U.S.A., Sorry for the War, and Disco Night Sept 11.

Laura Wexler

Edited By

Laura Wexler is Charles H. Farnam professor of women's, gender & sexuality studies and American studies, Yale University.