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The working world

September 04, 2006

On Labor Day, paradoxically, we do not labor. Which makes it a good time to consider the toil of the rest of the year. National Geographic's latest book, "Work: The World in Photographs," is designed to help us in the process.

"How work looks," writes the book's author, Ferdinand Protzman, "is different from the way work is, or how the people doing the work feel and think about it." Looking at the pictures "leads each of us to ponder in our own personal terms not just the subject at hand but the universal nature of human existence. That is not an abstract, philosophical exercise....The photographers who worked so hard to make these pictures understand that what they view" -- and the work we do -- "can be gorgeous, transfixing and horrible."

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