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New From Cognoscenti Books – January 2013

January 14, 2013

Over New Year 2012-2013 we published the following ebooks which are now available on our own site at COGNOSCENTI BOOKS, as well as on Amazon, iStore, Kobo and Barnes & Noble. We will be adding them to Smashwords and to the Best Indie Book Store in the near future.

At the same time we managed to pass 20,000 images posted in our online image library PICTURES FROM HISTORY. We still have another 120,000 or so undigitized images in our stock library, so we’re likely to be posting for at least another decade…  Meanwhile, we will continue to add new digital images as they are shot.

VIETNAM PAST AND PRESENT: THE NORTH

04 Vietnam North Cover 1200 x 1600 B

A journey through North Vietnam’s historic past and fast-changing present; 62,000 words, 4 maps, 81 contemporary images, 38 historical images, glossary, bibliography

Vietnam is a name that resonates in the American national consciousness. Yet before the Gulf of Tonkin Incident in 1964, few Americans knew much about Vietnam, causing former US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to comment that Americans were ’almost completely ignorant of Vietnamese culture, knowing little of the language or long history of the country’. By contrast, since the fall of Saigon in 1975 there can be few people anywhere in the world that do not know the name, location and recent history of Vietnam. Yet beyond the period of US involvement in what Americans call the ’Vietnam War’ and Vietnamese call the ’American War’, how much has changed? The war was of seminal importance to the United States, and Americans inevitably tend to view Vietnam and matters Vietnamese through its prism. But is the same true, in reverse, for Vietnamese? The answer, many in America may be surprised to learn, is a resounding “no”. Almost no Vietnamese bear a grudge against the USA, and the great majority of Vietnamese people are positively friendly towards Americans.

This is less true for China, Vietnam’s close neighbor, mentor and rival for more than two thousand years. In comparison with this long love-hate relationship, US involvement in Vietnam – so significant and painful to most Americans – is just a brief, albeit equally painful, memory to most Vietnamese. This simple fact can be seen in the street names of Hanoi, Vietnam’s national capital and the oldest capital city in Southeast Asia. Vietnamese like to name their streets after what they consider to have been ‘acts of foreign aggression’, and in greater Hanoi no fewer than 119 streets are named after ‘acts of Chinese and French aggression’. And the number named for ‘acts of American aggression’? – Tellingly, just two. Based on an intimate personal knowledge of Vietnam extending over two decades, this book explores Hanoi and the North – Vietnam’s historic heartland and, conversely, the region most influenced by Chinese culture and most suspicious of Chinese intentions. It leads the reader not just across the contemporary north, but also through its long history, linking the present-day with the distant past.

Price : US$8.99

ANGKOR: EIGHTH WONDER OF THE WORLD

Angkor Cover 1200 x 1600

Angkor is the largest religious complex in the world and the greatest historic attraction in Southeast Asia. 20,000 words, 81 contemporary images, 18 historic images, 7 maps

For much of the second half of the 20th century Cambodia was racked by war and famine. Yet it was not always like this. Before its rice fields were stained with blood in the mid-1960s, Cambodia was celebrated as a land of fertile tranquility where a predominantly Buddhist people continued the myriad artistic and cultural traditions of the old Khmer Empire—the first high civilisation in Southeast Asia, exemplified by the extraordinary temple of Angkor Wat, surely the Eighth Wonder of the World. Angkor has to be seen to be believed. It is the largest religious site in the world and, beyond doubt, the major cultural and historical attraction in all of Southeast Asia.

Price : US$8.99

LADYBOY: THAILAND’S THEATER OF ILLUSION

Ladyboy Cover 1200 x 1600

The photographs in this coffee table e-book colourfully reveal the glamorous world of Thai transvestite cabaret. 4,000 words, 86 full colour images

In Thailand practically every town or village has several openly transsexual boys or men who dress as women and are born with feminine characteristics. They are known by a Thai term which translates as ’Women of the Second Kind’, and are also often known by the English loan word ’Ladyboy’. Perhaps no other country in the world has such a large percentage of transsexuals, nor arguably does there exist any other culture where persons of the ‘third gender’ can live and interact with society so freely and comfortably.

Price : US$7.99

100 BEAUTIES: SUZUKI HARUNOBU

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One hundred of the most beautiful and most compelling woodblock prints of bijin or ‘beautiful women’ from Suzuki Harunobu, master printmaker of 18th century Edo – today’s Tokyo – together with essays on Harunobu’s life and times, his artistic techniques and of course his ‘beauties’

Suzuki Harunobu was a celebrated 18th century Japanese ukiyo-e artist who produced thousands of exquisite woodblock prints illustrating aspects of life and society in old Edo – today’s Tokyo. His subjects extended from Kabuki actors and courtesans to landscapes, explicit eroticism and street scenes. Yet the subject at which he most excelled was bijin-ga or paintings of beautiful women. This book examines Harunobu’s life and times and artistic achievements, as well as 100 full colour images of his most appealing and winsome bijin or beauties – with their lovers, at their everyday domestic chores, in the Yoshiwara brothel quarter, or just viewing nature.

Price : US$7.99

47 RONIN: UTAGAWA KUNIYOSHI EDITION

Ronin Cover B 1200 x 1600

Illustrated with the full Utagawa Kuniyoshi print edition of 1847-1848

The story of the 47 Ronin is perhaps the most popular and best known legend of traditional Japan. Set in the early 18th century, it tells a tale of honour and bloody revenge as the brotherhood of 47 masterless Samurai pursue the ruthless killing of Lord Kira, the official who brought about the downfall and suicide of their master, Lord Asano. This edition of the story is illustrated by the full set of masterful woodblock prints created by celebrated artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi in 1838-39, images as vivid and striking today as when they were first made 175 years ago. A new version of the tale of the 47 Ronin is currently under production by Universal Pictures starring Keanu Reeves and Hiroyuki Sanada. This book sets the film in its true historical context and is accompanied by 68 outstandingly rare and beautiful images.

Price : US$7.99

47 RONIN: TSUKIOKA YOSHITOSHI EDITION

Japan: The 47 Ronin or Loyal Retainers, No. 42: Kayano Wasuke Tsuenari [Hayano Tsuenari] emerging from the water in freezing weather. 'Historical Biographies of the Loyal Retainers' (1869). Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

Illustrated with the full Tsukioka Yoshitoshi woodblock print edition of 1869

The story of the 47 Ronin is perhaps the most popular and best known legend of traditional Japan. Set in the early 18th century, it tells a tale of honour and bloody revenge as the brotherhood of 47 masterless Samurai pursue the ruthless killing of Lord Kira, the official who brought about the downfall and suicide of their master, Lord Asano. This edition of the story is illustrated by the full set of colourful woodblock prints created by master artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi in 1869, images as evocative and memorable today as when they were first made 150 years ago. A new version of the tale of the 47 Ronin is currently under production by Universal Pictures starring Keanu Reeves and Hiroyuki Sanada. This book sets the film in its true historical context and is accompanied by 64 outstandingly rare and beautiful images.

Price : US$7.99

28 FAMOUS MURDERS

Famous Murders Cover 1200 x 1600

Illustrated with the full Tsukioka Yoshitoshi and Utagawa Yoshiiku woodblock print edition of 1866-1868

Between 1866 and 1868 the celebrated Japanese artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, in collaboration with his colleague Utagawa Yoshiiku, produced a series of images of graphic horror and cruelty entitled ’28 Famous Murders with Verse’. The series of 28 ukiyo-e woodblock prints shocked, horrified and delighted the citizens of Edo – or at least those of a voyeuristic and morbid disposition. Known as the muzan-e, ’atrocious’ or ’cruel pictures’, all 28 are reproduced here together with other examples of the genre by Yoshitoshi, as well as short essays of ’The Strange World of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi’ and ’28 Famous Murders with Verse’.

Price : US$5.99

PAGES FROM THE BOOK OF KELLS

Ireland / Scotland: Folio 285r, Decorated Text, Una autem sabbati valde. The Book of Kells, c. 800 CE

9,500 words, 43 full colour plates, 2 black and white plates

The Book of Kells is a magnificently illuminated manuscript Gospel in Vulgate Latin containing the four Gospels of the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created by Celtic monks on the small Island of Iona off the coast of western Scotland in about 800 CE. The text is mainly in Vulgate Latin dating from the 4th century CE, though there are passages in Vetus Latin or ‘Old Latin’ that predate the Vulgate Bible. The Book of Kells is chiefly celebrated for its illuminated illustrations and extraordinarily elaborate ornamentation. It is considered to represent the very best of insular illumination and is widely considered Ireland’s most important national treasure. This ebook includes full colour images of all the major illuminated pages in The Book of Kells, together with an introduction, the main text of Sir Edward Sullivan’s seminal study of the Book of Kells from 1914, a brief biography of Sir Edward Sullivan, and an essay on Saint Columba and the Island of Iona where the book was made.

Price : US$7.99

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