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Book Reviews

Tales From The River Brahmaputra

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The River Brahamaputra runs from the Himalayas in Tibet, through India, and on through Bangladesh, winding its way through numerous languages, cultures, and three great religions: Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. The armchair traveler will find this book a scenic adventure as it illuminates the sights along the river in brilliant moments of photography by Tiziana and Gianni Baldizzone.

This sacred river of the Indian subcontinent is known by three different names: Tsangpo, Brahmaputra, Jamuna. As one journeys along its banks, a long history of mystery and people experienced in centuries of exploration are encountered through descriptive text and striking photographs. The inhabitants who live there and their relationship to the river are also discussed as well as the regions’ buildings, houses, religions and cultures.

One such striking photograph is a two-page spread of a young Tibetan boy in dark robes at the Shalu Monastery. Only the boy’s face is highlighted as he lights the tray of butter candles in front of him as the rest of the monastery is shrouded in shadows. Another beautiful photograph is of the “Great Curve”: an overhead view of the Brahmaputra gorging and looping its way through starkly vivid green countryside. An additional example of these eye-catching photographs is one of blackness with only the faces and robes of fishermen glowing orange in the firelight in Bangladesh.

One improvement in the book’s layout would have been placing the captions next to the photographs. This would have eliminated the necessity of moving back and forth to the appendix and thereby enhancing the enjoyment of the photographs and improving comprehension.

This is the fourth book of photographic journalism compiled by the authors. Others include: India of the Forgotten Tribes (1993), Tibet of the Noble Brigands-in the footsteps of Alexandra David-Neel (1995), and Timeless India (1996). Tales from the River Brahmaputra continues their exploration of Asia and Africa in which they have specialized for twenty years. Their work has also appeared in acclaimed magazines, such as Geo, Animan, Airone, Altair and Terre Sauvage.

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