It has meant searching out other Frank fanatics, engaging in endless and at times pointless discussions and arguments, and planning forays into literature and foreign languages.
Today I think I know exactly what The Americans means, but whenever I try to explain I get lost among the facts, details, hints, and significant quotations.
The lesson often learned from The Americana was not one of content or meaning, but a realization of the enormous strength of the attitude behind it.
The Lines of My Hand shows this as a sense of inevitability, a feeling that there is no escape from life.
Here started a journey into The Americans in an attempt to understand not just the photographs, but the book.
It has been a journey among museum archives, borrowed books, and xerox machines.
It came from the heart and from the mind: it was wrought from personal conviction and shaped by the accumulated knowledge of a career in photography.
It was little understood and appreciated at first, and it took ten years before its influence was recognized.
 But a look at the overall plan of me book reveals it to be more like a perverse parody of Edward Steichen's 1955 catalogue for the exhibition, "The Family of Man." It covers the same range of topics but from an altered viewpoint that reverses the implicit argument that the political system proceeds from the individual.
And there are clear parallels -- the introduction by Jack Kerouac, for example, which mocks Carl Sandburg's introduction to The Family of Man. There would be a remarkable efficiency in such a project, for a parody of The Family of Man would critique both the implicit purpose of Steichen's exhibit -- to sell the American way of life -- and the explicit assumption that this could be done photographically -- that photography comprises a universal language.