John Szarkowski was a photographer for nearly two decades before accepting his influential curatorial post at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1962. He published two books of his photographs in the 1950s, The Idea of Louis Sullivan (1956), and The Face of Minnesota (1958). Szarkowski's second book became a best seller in the months after its publication, but has received little critical attention in recent discussions of his photographic oeuvre. An examination of early correspondence, publishing records, and Szarkowski's own writings provides a framework for re-considering the significance of The Face of Minnesota, placing it within a period of innovation in the expanding field of photographically-illustrated books. The book is analyzed in terms of its roles as both celebration of the state and platform for the author's personal expression. The book's legacy is considered in terms of its reception since 1958.