Travel Books - the Next Best Thing to Being There

Richard Brown's New England

By Richard W. Brown

Firefly Books

116 color photos

144 pp., $40

Canyons of the Colorado

Text by John Wesley Powell

Photographs by Joseph Holmes

Chronicle Books paperback

63 color plates

136 pp., $23

IMAZIGHEN: The Vanishing Traditions of Berber Women

By Margaret Courtney-Clarke

Clarkson Potter Publishers

248 photographs

192 pp., $55

Jerusalem: In The Shadow of Heaven

Edited by David Cohen & Lee Liberman

Collins Publishers San Francisco

131 photographs

192pp., $35

Egypt: Antiquities From Above

Photographs by Marilyn Bridges

63 black & white photographs

128 pp., $40

The presence of any of these books on a coffee table would prompt an interesting discussion. Their photos range from strikingly beautiful scenes in nature, a fresh perspective on the last remaining wonder of the world, sensitive images from both sides of an ancient conflict, to a way of life in a closed society.

The changes of season in Richard Brown's New England are awesome. It would seem that the march of civilization has only enhanced the number of memorable scenes to be discovered in Brown's view of nature.

There are literally dozens of totally fresh images in this collection of one of the most photographed regions of the country.

John Wesley Powell's pioneering scientific exploration of the Colorado River, including the Grand Canyon, was one grand adventure. In Canyons of the Colorado his text is woven in with a spectacular rendition of what he must have seen. Nearly a century later, Joseph Holmes, an accomplished landscape photographer, has produced thrilling art photographs of the same impressive discoveries.

Digital color management systems were used to move the quality of the original images, or the photographer's vision, to the printed page. The result is that readers are presented with rich and flawless color plates.

Traditions of Berber Women, by Margaret Courtney-Clarke, is an informative and colossal tale of the Berber women in northern Africa. This book was made despite struggles with bureaucracy, social backwardness, and cultural reticence. Unfortunately, better editing is called for.

Out of nearly 250 photographs, about a dozen are eye- pleasing and nicely displayed. The intended effect is overwhelmed by the sheer number of photos.

One quickly spots a bit of courage in Jerusalem: in the Shadow of Heaven, edited by Cohen amd Liberman, which brings together sensitive images from both sides of an age-old conflict. The reader need not waste time analyzing, or favoring, either political viewpoint. Just enjoy the visual feast from a world-class city yearning to breathe freely.

The fresh aerial perspectives on the Pyramids in Egypt: Antiquities from Above, by Marilyn Bridges, earns a niche in photo history.

Low light and impressive shadows in black-and-white take one's breath away.

To retain the best impression of this collection, which includes seemingly countless sand-covered and deteriorating antiquities, start with eight views of the three pyramids of Giza (including the Great Sphinx), skipping to Page 70-72 for Colossi of Memnon on the West Bank of the Thebes, and then while promising to return, just put the book down.

Be sure to take note of the frontpiece. It utilizes more of the beautiful range, from total black to pure white, that is missing in many sandy views. But the reader must find a magnifying glass to enjoy the detail in an amazing aerial angle from which to view the Great Temple of Rameses II.

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