The mid-19th century heralded the age of knowledge, and photography was developed as an effective tool for documenting a vast array of global factsfamous and common people, spectacular scenes and mundane activities, monuments, mills, crafts, war, recreation, ceremony. Among the more venturesome and skillful photographers of that time was Britain's John Thomson who camera-explored Siam, Cambodia, Vietnam and South China in the 1860s. That sojourn is the principal subject of this handsome book, which includes vivid and well-crafted photographs of the now-famous ruins at Angkor Wat, Buddhist monasteries, ``floating cities,'' and the court and king of Siam that bring to life a world of mystery and exotic custom. White's critical biography is thoroughly engaging. (May 27)
In this first monograph on Thomson, the photographer emerges as a much fuller figure than was appreciated. Born in Edinburgh in 1837, he left for the Far East in 1862. For ten years he photographed the Orient, equally intrigued by beggars in Foochow, the kings of Siam and Cambodia, tradesmen in Peking, and the exotic look of Formosa. The importance of these images has been overshadowed by Thomson's collaboration, Street Life in London (1877). Now, a traveling exhibition and this fine text with 160 exquisitely reproduced duotone images reveal Thomson's genius as a landscapist and chronicler, an explorer of unphotographed regions, and one who set out to record a people. Highly recommended. Ann Copeland, Drew Univ. Lib., Madison, N.J.
A reprint of the Thames and Hudson edition of 1985. Excellent reproductions of Thomson's important photos of China and S.E. Asia in the 1865-1872 period (with London & Cyprus). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)