MAG­NUM CHINA

The Daily Telegraph - Review - - BOOKS -

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

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