From the war reporters Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson on assignment in the Thirties, through to Martin Parr, modern chronicler of kitsch and consumption, who took this photograph at the Happy Valley racecourse in Hong Kong in 2013, the hefty and entirely satisfying volume Magnum China gives a nuanced outsider’s view of China over the past century. Historical commentary guides us through the stranger patches of its progress from strict Maoism to the economic juggernaut of today, while potted essays on the photographers themselves explain how, for instance, Inge Morath took Chinese lessons for four years before she visited in
1978; how Patrick Zachmann slipped into the Triad headquarters of the Kowloon Walled City in Hong
Kong in 1987; and how Eve Arnold, trying to capture Chinese daily life in 1979, struggled to stop her subjects shouting “Smile, smile!” for the camera.
Thames & Hudson, £48