Social Studies

The catalogue of a recent Harvard University exhibition, You Look Beautiful Like That: The Portrait Photographs of Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé chronicles the two portrait photographers' work in Mali. Keïta and Sidibé took countless studio portraits of Malinese people before and after the country became independent from France in 1960. Michelle Lamunière, a curatorial research assistant at Harvard's Fogg Museum, includes an essay on the history of West African portrait photography (with images dating back to the turn of the century) and portions of recent interviews with the two artists. The 79 images—ranging from people in strictly traditional dress to friends in hip Westernized get-ups to men posed in a boxing scene—are striking for their subjects' arresting gazes and poses as well as for their superior production value. (Yale Univ., $22.95 paper 116p ISBN 0-300-09188-5; Nov.)

Traveling between the vastly different worlds of New York society and his working class neighbors in Martins Creek, Pa., throughout the late 1970s and early 80s, Larry Fink embarked on a project similar to Diane Arbus's, often capturing in his images some quality of which the subjects themselves are unaware. But Fink, unlike Arbus, doesn't seek the "freak" in everyone; empathy comes through in the Social Graces he finds and juxtaposes, even when the photos are less than flattering. First published in 1984, the book's bias toward the "down-home" Pennsylvania folks is evident in the images and Fink's essay from 1982 (he calls the New York socialites " 'political enemies'"—in quotations, but only half ironically). Yet a number of the 92 duotone photos are truly riveting, and Fink's observations of class dynamics 20 and 30 years ago still feel relevant today. (PowerHouse, $55 128p ISBN 1-57687-048-0; Nov.)

Plenty of books feature New York City's famous landmarks, but what about the Big Apple's famous—or notorious, or merely interesting—citizens? Former mayor Ed Koch, Carlyle Hotel crooner Bobby Short, bearded lady Jennifer Miller, Chinatown's Egg Cake Lady and The Oldest Cabbie are just a few of the folks Gillian Zoe Segal highlights in her book of photographs and biographical sketches, New York Characters. It's not a comprehensive gathering ("Woody Allen dissed me—and I got in a fight with the "Soup Nazi," she writes), but that's part of its charm: after all; a unique city deserves a quirky cross-section. All author proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Foreword by George Plimpton. (Norton, $22.95 147p ISBN 0-393-04196-4; Nov.)

Annals and Instruments of War

Historian Donald L. Miller offers The Story of World War II, an expanded and updated rewrite of Henry Steele Commager's 1945 The Story of the Second World War. Commager was a historian who taught at NYU, Columbia and Amherst; he died in 1998. Miller (Lewis Mumford: A Life) is a professor at Lafayette College and the host of PBS's A Biography of America. With new material from oral accounts, letters and memoirs to which Commager didn't have access and with the inclusion of nearly 200 b & w photographs, Miller alters the footprint but respects the integrity of his predecessor's work. Old-school, just-the-facts-Ma'am historiography is the name of this game, but the extensive, moving testimonies by veterans of their brushes with death and terror humanize and vivify the described events. Maps. (Simon & Schuster/Lou Reda, $35 660p ISBN 0-7432-1198-7; Nov. 16)

In 1980 Britain's Special Air Service, founded in North Africa in 1941, took on several Palestinian liberationists and members of Baader-Meinhof, a revolutionary organization, who hijacked a plane full of passengers. In 1941, members of Italy's Underwater Division of the 10th motor torpedo boat, aka the human torpedoes, drove underwater "chariots" amidst the British Mediterranean fleet and attached explosive warheads to the hulls of several ships. Despite the heroic stand of French Legionnaires, the nationalist-communist Viet Minh triumphed in 1954, effectively marking the end of French government in Vietnam. These and numerous other feats are recounted by participants, journalists and historians in The Mammoth Book of Elite Forces, edited by Jon E. Lewis. Nearly half of the accounts focus on WWII, and all of them feature Western armies. (Carroll & Graf, $11.95 paper 512p ISBN 0-7867-0952-9; Jan.)

Diverting Accoutrements

The jewelers to the stars are featured in Penny Proddow and Marion Fasel's Bejeweled: Great Designers, Celebrity Style. Peggy Guggenheim in mobile-like Calder earrings; Marlene Dietrich in emeralds and diamonds by Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin; the Duchess of Windsor in Belperron's chalcedony, sapphire and diamond "suite"; Cher in Bulgari's Star Spangled Banner collection; Courtney Love in diamonds by Hafner; and numerous other glitterati and their gems appear in this study in high-profile, top-dollar frivolity. Some of the pieces—by Fouquet, Lalique, Flato and a few others—are true landmarks. Fashionistas and the Hollywood set will enjoy this tour of some 20th-century streets actually paved with gold. (Abrams, $35 144p ISBN 0-8109-0616-3; Dec.)

At the top of its trade in many of its luxury items, Tiffany & Co. is, unsurprisingly, no slouch when it comes to silver. In Magnificent Tiffany Silver, John Loring, Tiffany's design director (some of his work appears here), traces the classic and more unusual designs to have come from the company's silver line since its birth in 1837. Trophies for the Preakness Stakes (1917) and the 2000 PGA tour, American Victorian loving cups, three-foot-tall Anheiser-Busch punch bowls from the 1860s, after-dinner coffee services, deco candelabras, chalices, nouveau vanity cases, jewelry boxes and so on grace the 345 photos (300 in full color) of this thorough art historical study. (Abrams, $60 272p ISBN 0-8109-4273-9; Nov.)

For a different demographic, writer and photographer Timothy S. Remus offers Custom Harley Motorcycle Art, replete with a plethora of color photographs. Skulls, psychotic clowns, Mickey Mouse, more skulls, scantily clad women, flames, Betty Boop—you name it, some bike somewhere has it (provided it's appropriately American). These vivid decorations are airbrushed, carved in high relief, spray-painted, stenciled and applied by any other artistic technique. The 125 custom-decorated bikes featured here (each gets several photos) will evoke covetous feelings among bikers and tattoo artists. (Car Tech [], $24.95 paper 168p ISBN 1-884089-58-5; Dec.)

Anne-Marie Deschodt and Doretta Daranzo Poli showcase the couture, lamps, photographs and paintings of renowned Gilded Age designer Mariano Fortuny (1871—1949). His pleated silk Delphos dresses and multi-tiered and tasseled silk lamps still win admiration from the fashion crew; his photography, painting and theatre set designs are less well known. Isadora Duncan wore his dresses and Orson Welles used his textiles for Othello's costumes; Fortuny's aesthetic endures in fashion and furniture design today, as the 309 photos and illustrations (163 in full color) and the careful research here show. (Abrams, $60188p ISBN 0-8109-1133-7; Nov.)

Does Money Matter?

Following your heart is not usually associated with running a profitable small business, but in The Startup Garden: How Growing a Business Grows You, business writer Tom Ehrenfeld explains how aspiring entrepreneurs can successfully mix business with inspiration and dreams. In a conversational, first-person style, he likens business growth to plant growth (i.e., identifying the seed one wishes to grow; determining whether it is fertile; and describing the shift from simply tending a plant to becoming a gardener). Though at times hokey, this is a nurturing resource that will help anyone struggling with the trials of a new business. (McGraw-Hill, $18.95 288p ISBN 0-07-136824-8; Nov.)

In yet another demonstration of the industry's quick response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, Ric Edelman (The Truth About Money; Ordinary People, Extraordinary Wealth) offers Financial Security in Troubled Times: What You Need to Do Now. "In the aftermath of that terrible day, people have begun to wonder about the safety and security of their jobs, their investments, their homes and their families," he writes. To that end, he presents eight chapters which discuss cash reserves, mortgages, job security, estate plans, investment strategies and more. And although readers might question the quality of a book that was written "in just two days," this is nonetheless a timely financial guide. (Harper Business, $14.95 192p ISBN 0-06-009403-6; Nov. 1)

October Publication

The ancestors of today's whales, manatees and seals were in fact terrestrial (some even looked rather like wolves); circa 50 million years ago, however, they returned to the sea. Prolific nature writer and marine life artist Richard Ellis (The Search for the Giant Squid; Men and Whales) investigates this phenomenon and many others—from bioluminescence to convergent evolution to the origin of life itself—in his excellent Aquagenesis: The Origin and Evolution of Life in the Sea (sent too late to PW for review). Combining scientific data with personal opinion (and even giving time to a few crackpot theories), this volume offers both the pleasures of a good narrative and the stimulation of a serious study. Line drawings by Ellis throughout. (Viking, $35.95 304p ISBN 0-670-03023-6; Oct.)