Valley of Shadows and Dreams


Editorial Reviews


''Beautiful, intriguing, worrisome, and heartbreaking.''
--The Daily Beast

''The more than 100 black-and-white images evoke the topical and the transcendent...Accompanied by informative and urgent essays about the political, environmental, and social challenges facing the region, the book makes a stirring call to change the way we consider the disenfranchised by offering a window into their lives.''
--Publishers Weekly

''The book's bleak vista encompasses compassion, loyalty, resilience, resistance and even humor. Page after page of black-and-white imagery places the bookaptly in the lineage of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Robert Frank.''
--Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle

''Taken in the Central Valley, these stirring black-and-white images channel WPA-era Dorothea Lange through their attention to labor, poverty, immigration, and agriculture.''
--San Francisco Magazine

''In this book you will find a powerful indictment not only of what has happened lately in America's largest state, but also of what is happening across this country right now. The abuse of illegal immigrants, environmental degradation, the madness of a real estate bubble, and all the other problems of the Central Valley are unfortunately relevant nationwide. Ken and Melanie Light bring great compassion and an eye for beauty to this subject, facing hard truths but refusing to despair.''
--Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation

''Ken and Melanie have used the camera not just with an artistic sense of composition and social perspective, but also as a kind of archaeological tool of calibration that links past and present in the same image.''
--Thomas Steinbeck, from the Foreword

''Ken and Melanie Light's book, a thoughtful and humane work, is a new, sensitive reanalysis of our dependence on the Valley, told through elegant pictures and text. The pictures are personal; they recall the tradition of the documentary photographs of the region s artistic forebears, especially Dorothea Lang's, but they are new, and--if one can even hazard the word in such situations--very beautiful.''
--Sandra S. Phillips, Senior Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

''With arresting images and probing text, the Lights lay bare America's richest agricultural realm, revealing not only how abundant and impressive it can be, but also how cruel and exploitative. The Great Central Valley hides some of California's dark secrets, just as it remains one of the state s enduring economic engines.''
--Gerald Haslam, author of Haslam's Valley

''Valley of Shadows and Dreams beautifully captures the contradictions at home in the Central Valley--between agricultural wealth and farmworker poverty, between natural beauty and man-made destruction, between the powerful and the powerless. Ken and Melanie Light's work puts a face on the disparities experienced by farmworkers in some of the richest agricultural areas in the world.''
--Caroline Farrell, Executive Director, Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment

''[The Lights' work] serves as a model for how to bring photography and interviews together in a documentary book.''
--Digital Journalist

''Photographer Ken Light and writer Melanie Light rivet readers' attentions. The Lights succeed in respecting their subjects, intruding on their lives just enough to render a haunting profile of hardworking folks living on the margins.''
--Choice, on Ken and Melanie Light's Coal Hollow