Books & Publications

Drake Hokanson is the author of two books, coauthor of another, coeditor of a fourth. His writing and photographs have appeared in several additional books, many magazines and journals.

Purebred & Homegrown: America’s County Fairs (University of Wisconsin Press, 2008). Coauthors Hokanson and Carol Kratz trace the history and culture of the American agricultural fair from its inception in 1811 to the modern fairs of today. Using both photographs and text, their story goes beyond the stereotype of fairs as quaint anachronisms obsessed with giant pumpkins and instead reveals the county fair as an important institution that helped define us as a nation of free-thinking, self-reliant, community-focused people. The book has been awarded Best Books for Special Interests by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for General Audiences by the Public Library Association.



America from the Air: An Aviator’s Story (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004). Editors Drake Hokanson and Carol Kratz worked with well-known aviation author Wolfgang Langewiesche to bring the best of his aviation essays back into print. Langewiesche’s descriptions of the country as seen from the air offer unique perspectives on the landscape at a time before the country was paved over by multilane expressways, suburban tract housing, and strip malls. His bird's-eye view of America takes in small farms, deserted seashores, busy railway lines, and cities in which skyscrapers were still engineering marvels.



Lincoln Highway: Main Street across America (10th anniversary edition, University of Iowa Press, 1999). Through text and photographs, Drake Hokanson traces the history and geography of America's 3,300-mile-long, first transcontinental highway. The book earned acclaim from Mark Holborn, editor of Aperture, and from The Christian Science Monitor, among other publications when the first edition was published in 1988. An exhibit of the 80 photographs from the book toured nationally and was sponsored by Exhibits USA. Lincoln Highway is available in a 10th anniversary edition.



Reflecting a Prairie Town: A Year in Peterson (University of Iowa Press, 1994). Hokanson uses photography and text to trace the story of a small Iowa town through its history, geography, people, and contemporary life. The book garnered favor in Library Journal, the Chicago Tribune, as well as mention in the Los Angeles Times and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. While the book is about Peterson, Iowa, it is also about how we can come to know any place—large or small. An exhibit of the photographs from the book toured to museums and galleries in the Midwest.


Chapters and other publications


Great River Review (Spring/Summer 2006) Essay called “Of Locomotives.”

Railroad History (Spring-Summer 2004). Essay called “Requiem for a Runaway”

Camera Arts (August/September 2003) “A Love of Wide Open Spaces,” Article and photographs.

Speakeasy (July/August 2003) “Across the Grain” Essay about flying the Great Plains.


Wisconsin Then and Now: The Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Rephotography Project (Nicolette Bromberg, University of Wisconsin Press, 2001). Multiple photographs that “re-depict” Wisconsin places.

Agricultural Fairs in America: Tradition, Education, Celebration (Ed. Julie Avery, Michigan State University, 2000). Lead chapter and photographs.

Iowa: Portrait of the Land (Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 2000). Introductory essay and aerial photographs.


Plain Pictures: Images of the American Prairie (Joni Kinsey, Smithsonian, 1996). Photograph.


A Sense of Place, a Sense of Time (John Brinckerhoff Jackson, Yale University Press, 1994). Photographs.


Take This Exit: Rediscovering the Iowa Landscape (Ed. Robert Sayre, Iowa State University Press, 1989). A chapter on transportation, plus photographs.