||In 1955, photographer Robert Frank, who had perfected his craft in the employ of magazines like Vogue and Life, abandoned his comfortable career and embarked on a tour of America which eventually encompassed two years and more than 28,000 photographs. Frank painstakingly selected 83 images of bus stations, drug stores, street corners, tenement buildings, taverns, picnics, funerals, parties, cops, cowboys, cars and empty parking lots, all of which embodied the aching bravado and sullen celebration of the American people. But Frank's pictures are much more than candid snapshots-he brilliantly distorted and manipulated the conventions of photography, using shadows, canted angles, blurred focus and skewed composition to better expose the essence of his subjects. Like many works of genius, THE AMERICANS was met by near unanimous critical disdain, though at least one literary figure recognized Frank's stunning achievement--Jack Kerouac wrote the ardent introduction for the first American edition of the book, which overflows with copious doses of his rambling ebullience. Fifty years after its initial publication, THE AMERICANS has accumulated the aura and adulation of a masterpiece, and is now recognized as one of the most important books of photography ever published.