SI Vault
Jeremiah Tax
December 12, 1983
The handsomest book published in our roundup for holiday giving this year is also far more than that, though its outstanding beauty is a considerable distinction in itself. Galen Rowell's Mountains of the Middle Kingdom (Sierra Club Books, $40) began as a rediscovery of the remote, immense stretch of high peaks in western China following the 30 years (1950-80) during which this fabled land was effectively sealed off to foreigners by the People's Republic. And with its remarkably evocative photographs and authoritative text, a rediscovery it is. But Rowell discovered quickly that what he was seeing and photographing as one of the first outlanders given access often bore little resemblance to the propaganda and the rare approved reports published in those 30 years. His firsthand account of what happened to millions of people and their culture is a journalistic coup and sure to excite controversy in a number of world capitals as well as among the exclusive fraternity of "old China hands."
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December 12, 1983

Here Is An Array Of Fine Holiday Gifts Just For The Sports-minded

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The prime innovator of the then-revolutionary notion that appearance had something to do with sales, he introduced chrome, tail fins, hardtops and dozens of today's stylistic clich�s, often revealing his own fascination with aerodynamics and space flight and nearly always designing longer and lower models. Harley Earl and the Dream Machine, by Stephen Bayley ( Alfred A. Knopf, $20) tells this story magnificently in both words and pictures, from Earl's early days in Hollywood, when he custom-designed cars for many of the stars, through the 1927 La Salle, the Buick "Y" Job, the '50s Cadillacs, the Corvettes and all of the "dream cars" that mesmerized millions of Americans.

Games and puzzles in book format, especially for children, are an old tradition, but I have not seen anything as good as Photo Crimes ( Simon and Schuster, $7.95) in some time. It is definitely not for the kiddies, but for you; it challenges you to play detective competitively. Twenty crimes—thefts, murders, industrial espionage—are enacted in step-by-step photographs, and you have to identify the culprits after examining clues and evidence. The clues are optional; for each one you decide to look at, you deduct points from your score; if you think you know who done it without their help, your score is that much higher. Then you compare your score with that of your opponent on each case. The cases are not easy, and I found them great fun. One interesting puzzle is the book itself. It was produced in England by four enterprising women, manufactured in Singapore and is offered to you by our own S & S. Oh, the miracles of Christmastime!

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