Around the World: The Grand Tour in Photo Albums

While it’s hard to picture from our tech-saturated perspective, there was a time when refrigerators were so newfangled that they came with a manual that was also a cookbook for use with this unheard-of device. Reading Around the World: The Grand Tour in Photo Albums is much like paging through one of these guides, as it reveals many aspects of voyaging it’s hard to believe ever were novel. And travel from 1890 to 1930 — the era represented here — presented considerable challenges. Only those of means could consider the time and expense entailed by a long journey when even getting to the main attraction — the Tour Eiffel, the Sphinx, the Venetian canals — could take days or weeks by ?motorcar,? rail, steamer, paddleboat, or ocean liner. As the authors point out, people often wanted to do what they already seen in other photographs, and so we see many posing atop mountain peaks or feeding the pigeons in the Piazza San Marco. But what distinguishes one album from another are captions (?Before Kit got seasick!?) and ephemera such as pasted-in news clippings (?Governor Seized in a Raid?) and menus (lamb’s head broth). Some travelers sought out edgier experiences, such as a public execution in Bangkok — the attendee attaching photos within a discrete envelope. Page by page, this book provides pause-worthy marvels, best viewed across the lap of two close family members, ideally beside a glowing hearth, right at home. –