Book Birthdays celebrate one year of a book’s life in tweets, reviews, ratings, and more! This month we’re saying Happy First Book Birthday to Irwin Klein and the New Settlers: Photographs of Counterculture in New Mexico (Bison Books, 2016), Edited by Benjamin Klein. Benjamin Klein, Irwin’s nephew, teaches European and world history at California State University, East Bay.
About the Book:
Dropouts, renegades, utopians. Children of the urban middle class and old beatniks living alone, as couples, in families, or as groups in the small Nuevomexicano towns. When photographer Irwin Klein began visiting northern New Mexico in the mid-1960s, he found these self-proclaimed New Settlers—and many others—in the back country between Santa Fe and Taos. His black-and-white photographs captured the life of the counterculture’s transition to a social movement. His documentation of these counterculture communities has become well known and sought after for both its sheer beauty and as a primary source about a largely undocumented group.
By blending Klein’s unpublished work with essays by modern scholars, Benjamin Klein (Irwin’s nephew) creates an important contribution to the literature of the counterculture and especially the 1960s. Supporting essays emphasize the importance of a visual record for interpreting this lifestyle in the American Southwest. Irwin Klein and the New Settlers reinforces the photographer’s reputation as an astute observer of back-to-the-land, modern-day Emersonians whose communes represented contemporary Waldens.
“For anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the idealism, hardships, and spirited nonconformity of the hippie tribe, Irwin Klein and the New Settlers: Photographs of Counterculture in New Mexico is a must-read—must view, really.” —New Mexico Magazine
“Klein created a marvelous and invaluable record of a cultural phenomenon that resonates with historians, those who lived through the period or were touched by it, and young people today who look back to the counterculture with a sense of awe.” —El Palacio
“The 80 photos published in Irwin Klein and the New Settlers: Photographs of Counterculture in New Mexico offer a stunning glimpse into an American subculture.” —Santa Fe New Mexican
“Kudos to Ben Klein for saving his uncle’s photographs and creating a book of historic significance. It is an antidote for those who mistakenly believe the counterculture was about ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll,’ and a nostalgic romp for those who were there.” —Legacy: New Mexico Jewish Historical Society
“Providing haunting imagery and anthropological context, Benjamin Klein’s newly published book Irwin Klein and the New Settlers, offers gritty insight into a harsher landscape of bohemian lifestyle.” —Good Times
“The photos gain historical depth from essays by scholars, describing this time of cultural upheaval, including the conflicts between the new settlers and the Hispanic, Native and other local residents impacted by the ‘hippie invasion.'” —High Country News
On the UNP blog:
A Word from the Author:
Since the publication of Irwin Klein and the New Settlers twelve months ago, I have appeared as a guest on radio shows in Massachusetts and New Mexico; discussed the book with audiences in the San Francisco Bay Area; and written about my recollections of the Sixties counterculture. The response to New Settlers has been humbling. Reviewers have praised the book; strangers have shared stories about their experiences in northern New Mexico; and my three children have pored over their great uncle’s photographs.
When my father received a copy, he told me that it took him a while to “absorb th[e] moment.”
“In my mental dialog,” he added, “I feel that Irwin was pleased and at peace with his longing to be recognized as the true artist that he was.”