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For adults, three trips to browse

December 16, 2007|Christopher Reynolds, Vani Rangachar, Christopher Reynolds

Lavishly illustrated books are not just for little ones. Adults also have their pick of coffee-table books this time of year. Below, three that will take you to other places and other climes, without your having to leave your armchair.


By Sebastiao Salgado

Taschen: 336 pp., $59.99

Sebastiao Salgado, born in Brazil, has been taking photographs in Africa's best and worst places for more than 30 years -- basically since he decided in the early 1970s to be a photographer instead of an economist. As in his previous widely admired projects focusing on workers and migrants, these images in "Africa" are all black-and-white, and many are deeply harrowing. But the wildlife and landscape images that join the shots of war, drought and displacement here point toward Salgado's most recent project, shooting nature images around the world. If you're going to yoke together natural beauty and human strife, Africa seems just the place to do it. This is a powerful, harshly beautiful (and trilingual) book, but be warned: There are as many starving wraiths and human corpses here as there are charismatic megafauna and spellbinding landscapes.

Christopher Reynolds


Wine Across America

A Photographic Road Trip

By Charles O'Rear and Daphne Larkin

Ten Speed Press: 224 pp., $35

Who knew the U.S. had wineries in every state? Yes, even in Alaska, where it's made by the Denali Winery with grapes shipped from California. "Wine Across America" is a celebration of the grapes, wineries and winemakers in the country, the culmination of an 80,000-mile, meandering two-years-long road trip by O'Rear and Larkin, a husband-and-wife team. The book is packed with 300 photos of landscapes, ordered rows of vines, winery owners and workers mugging for the camera. But leaf through the book and you'll be surprised by facts too: Missouri had the first designated wine district, the U.S. has nearly 5,000 wineries, Thomas Jefferson first grew grapes in 1774.

Vani Rangachar


Philip Plisson's Celtic Coastlines

Text by Patrick Mahe

Thames & Hudson: 224 pp., $55

Smell a little salt in the air? Hear pipes calling? Blame the remarkable European seaside imagery in "Philip Plisson's Celtic Coastlines." This volume takes a broad view of the Celtic world, devoting 102 photos to Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Cornwall in England, Brittany in France and Asturias and Galicia in Spain. The view is broad too: Most images measure about 8 by 24 inches, played across facing pages, most in dizzying detail. The only problems are Patrick Mahe's overwrought prose (but there's not much of it) and a handful of images that lack the resolution needed to run so big. But the whitecaps marching across the sea, the sun seen through mist, the old stone houses and lonely beach wanderers -- you can't beat those.

-- Christopher Reynolds

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