Scholars have noted that the book's ambitious scale and rejection of traditional reporting runs parallel with the creative, non-traditional programs of the U.S. government under Roosevelt. Agee argues with literary, political, and moral traditions that might mean nothing to his subjects but which are important for the larger audience and the larger context of examining other's lives.
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men has won high praise over the years and is routinely studied in the U.S. as a source of both journalistic and literary innovation. Reading the book inspired Aaron Copland to write his opera, The Tender Land. David Simon, journalist and creator of acclaimed television series The Wire, credited the book with impacting him early in his career and informing his practice of journalism.
Although the book is presented as documentary and "true", the pictures were actually somewhat posed, for technical and aesthetic reasons, leading to current controversy over the truth of historical records. This was not uncommon in photography of this time period.