After a hardscrabble boyhood, Cook became a photographer at the age of twenty when he took a job with the Ada Evening News in southern Oklahoma. His first assignment was to photograph six abandoned puppies at the city dump—an apt foreshadowing of his career, for he has always been drawn to the poor, the disenfranchised, and the downtrodden.
In addition to the brief essays that accompany his photographs, Cook shares some of his own life experiences in a moving introduction and epilogue. His unsparing account of some of the worst moments of his difficult youth and his meditations on how he used these hardships to become an artist can only be called inspirational. "At seven I didn't know any better," he writes, "and believed I had few choices. But I quickly learned to cope—to feint, to dodge, to hide, to read, to run, to survive, to make art—and I did it all, shooting from the hip."
J. Don Cook, a resident of Oklahoma City, is an award-winning photojournalist, artist, poet, and business entrepreneur. Nominated three times for a Pulitzer Prize and named News Photographer of the Year seven times by the Oklahoma Press Association, his photographs have appeared in such magazines as National Geographic and Time. James Garner, the acclaimed film and television actor, is best known for his leading roles in the television series Maverick and the The Rockford Files. He is a native of Norman, Oklahoma.
"Plunge into this wonderful book and be delighted by the luminous images of J. Don Cook. Some will make you cry; some will make you smile, but you will be moved."—James Garner