Valley of Shadows and Dreams by Melanie Light

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 1 Critic Review



Ken and Melanie Light have embarked on a photographic and literary exploration of a region known for its agricultural plenty--and the marginalization of its people. In Valley of Shadows and Dreams they dig deep into the harsh truths of farm workers' daily experience, revealing a deep sense of anger and betrayal toward the destructive legacies of politics, bureaucracy, and control.

The Lights show us once-viable farmland transformed into neighborhoods full of empty tract homes that no workers can afford. We are confonted head-on with the devastating results of foreclosure. We stand in the Community Center food line in Mendota, we slip magically onto a midnight dance floor with migrant workers in Tulare, and we sail out across the San Joaquin River on a rope swing. These photos and stories capture scenes of hardworking people fighting to preserve their livelihoods and traditions. With an introduction by Thomas Steinbeck and impassioned essays by Melanie Light about the importance of recognizing and rectifying the cycle of employers oppressing workers, Valley of Shadows and Dreams uncovers the realities of life in this troubled but vital region that are often hidden and difficult to capture.


About Melanie Light

See more books from this Author
Ken Light is a social documentary photographer whose published work includes Coal Hollow, Witness in Our Time, Texas Death Row, Delta Time, To the Promised Land, and With These Hands. He has exhibited internationally, received numerous grants and awards, and is an adjunct professor at and director of the Center for Photography at the University of California, Berkeley.Melanie Light is a writer whose most recent book is Coal Hollow. She has published two special edition books: Night at the Met, with photographs by Larry Fink, and Mad Day Out, featuring rare photos of the Beatles. She is the cofounding executive director of Fotovision, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the international community of documentary photographers, and she has received grants from the Soros Documentary Fund and the Rosenberg Foundation. She teaches and lectures internationally.Thomas Steinbeck is a writer, a Vietnam war veteran and combat photographer, and the firstborn son of Nobel laureate John Steinbeck. He is the author of The Silver Lotus, In the Shadow of the Cypress, and Down to a Soundless Sea. He lives in California with his wife, Gail. His website is
Published May 1, 2012 by Heyday. 176 pages
Genres: Arts & Photography, Travel.

Unrated Critic Reviews for Valley of Shadows and Dreams

The Daily Beast

“In 2009, about 1.6 million migrant, mostly undocumented and seasonal farm workers planted, grew, and picked crops valued at $34.8 billion,” Melanie Light writes.

Jun 16 2012 | Read Full Review of Valley of Shadows and Dreams