The Americans is overtly public in subject matter, yet deeply infused with personal feelings -- recognizable even in me 1950s as a tone of disapproving sadness which had never before been allowed in photojournalism.
Gaylord Herron called it "Robert Frank's diary," but many saw the book instead as an accurate reflection, and hence as a critique of America.
I've charted a few of them: I'll start at the center.
* * * At the center of a career as photographer and filmmaker, and separating the two, Robert Frank produced The Americans.
 The suggestion of this double critique -- of the social structure and of the established diction of photography -- comes from more than just speculative theory.
The specific composition of the book can be recognized as an Anatomy which deftly dissects America, organ by organ (stopping only at the heart) and is clearly put forth in the tradition of Rabelais and Swift, of Goya and Daumier.
What did Robert Frank learn from The Americans that we've overlooked?
In 1972 he published another book, The Lines of My Hand,  a visual autobiography.
And a critique because any return to the vernacular implicates the established style of photography in a falsification of the real world.
"You can photograph anything now," Robert Frank said in 1961.