Riis had intimate knowledge of the slums of New York having lived there briefly after his arrival from his native Denmark. He experienced a gradual worsening of his circumstances, hunger, theft and rejection. After finding employment as a newspaper reporter, Riis experimented with photography and he was able to document the overcrowding of tenements, the dismal conditions of many dwellings, shiftless drunkards, decrepit alleys and groups of newspaper boys (shoeless!). Meticulously documented conditions, census figures, and income of his subjects reveal a horrendous picture of "the other half" of New York. Separated into chapters devoted to the living quarters of the various immigrant groups (Irish, Jewish, Italian, Chinese etc.), he cannot escape some stereotypes - the money grubbing Jew, the dirty Irish, the "almost" clean Germans - as evidenced in the respective tenement blocks. From overcrowding, starvation wages, dismal hygienic environment - no water in the...
This edition is full of typos, many of which render entire sentences illogical. The whole thing is awkwardly formatted, as if the editor had no concept that the information was going to appear on the page of a book. There is no table of contents. "Special illustrated edition" is a complete lie -- the images are uselessly reproduced. Many of the images are so illegible that the typed captions within the image had to be reproduced outside the image. Not a single image in the book is adequate or useful -- I went online for worthwhile reproductions. I was truly disappointed with this edition which is in no way fit to be published. The publisher, "Seven Treasures Publications" does not seem to have a website, and offers only a fax number and an email address, nor is an editor named. This is clearly not a serious nor reputable publication company -- anyone who has bought this book, including me, was duped.
The photographs, not the captions/commentary, are what make Riis's work poignant and of lasting importance. That's why I ordered the book. The photographs are omitted from this edition.
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