W. Eugene Smith and the Photographic Essay is an in-depth study of the work of one of the most important and gifted photojournalists of the postwar period in America. Glenn Willumson begins by examining the antecedents for the photo-essay, a genre that developed in unison with the halftone reproduction and the illustrated weekly periodical. He goes on to analyze closely four works that W. Eugene Smith produced for Life magazine, and for which he is best known: "Country Doctor", "Spanish Village", "Nurse Midwife", and "A Man of Mercy". In his study of these works, now acknowledged to set the standard by which the photo-essay is judged, Willumson explores the conception, history, political context, and public and critical reception of the essays. Analysis of previously unknown details surrounding the completion of each assignment demonstrates Smith's commitment to the photographic essay as a vehicle for social change. Celebrated for his dramatic, individual photographs, Smith was a serious artist who made efforts to link his visual interpretation with an appropriate text, whose multiple meanings Willumson unravels. Smith also struggled to exercise control over the selection, sequence, and layout of his photographs. Frustrated by the tradition of investing authorial control in the hands of editors, Smith demanded increasing authority over the presentation of his photographs. In 1954, however, Life editors published Smith's photo-reportage of Albert Schweitzer against the wishes of the photographer. Smith, at the height of his fame, resigned from Life magazine in protest. The result of his decision was immediate and personal, plunging him into an abyss of self-doubt that haunted him untilhis death in 1978. Willumson's narrative traces the history of this conflict and its implications for photojournalism. An engaging account of Smith's career, W. Eugene Smith and the Photographic Essay reproduces his work as it originally appeared in Life, making it accessible to a new generation of scholars and photography enthusiasts.