This article is from the April 1996 The Mexico File newsletter.
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Book Review
Mexico - A Higher Vision

Photography by Michael Calderwood; Texi by Gabriel Brena; Introduction by Carlos Fuentes. Reviewed by Jane Perkins, Owner of El Tecolote Libros in Todos Santos, Baja Sur.

"To see Mexico from the air is to look upon the face of creation." With these words Carios Fuentes opens his introductionto MEXICO - A HIGHER VISION. Anyone who has ever flown over Mexico, even at jetway altitudes, will recognize the sensation of looking down upon a land that seems to be part of an earlier, more elemental world. From the canyons and deserts of the north to the brilliant greens and blues of Mexico's rugged southeast jungles and Caribbean coastline, the earth seems newly made.

This dazzling full-color pictorial look at the U.S.'s southern neighbor and closest trading partner was photographed by British photographer Michael Calderwood over a period of 425 flying hours. Calderwood's goal was to "capture the face and feeling of Mexico as no one had ever done before."

Like an aerial journey, this book transports readers from the Mayan grandeur of the Yucatan to the hostile beauty of the Baja Peninsula. Seen from the air are well-known archaeological sites and less accessible ones like Yaxchilan and Edzna. Despite spectacular shots of Acapulco, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, for the most part this book provides glimpses of the largely unknown Mexico. Many of these sights can be seen only from the air.. giving this book a true uniqueness and value.

Carlos Fuentes, the well-known Mexican writer, provides an introduction that gives his view of the elements that create Mexico. He speaks of the Sun of Water, Sun of Farth, Sun of Wind and the Sun of Fire. This book confirms that ancient aboriginal vision of the four elements succeeding each other in what was ultimately a circular movement. In these photographs, he states we are to see beyond the circle and receive a vision of the elements of creation in simultaneous interplay. He states, "No matter how harsh our reality may be,. we do not deny any facet of creation, we do not deny any reality. We try, instead, to integrate all aspects of the cosmos into our art, our way of seeing, our sense of taste, our dreams, our music, our language." This introduction by Fuentes provides a setting that is worthy of this fine photojournalistic work.

It is difficult to describe a book that provides the quality and depth of photography found in "A Higher Vision." As previously stated, only from the air could many of these photos have been made. For those of us who will not see the active volcanos of Mexico or the many other sights reflected in this book, it is an opportunity to gain a new view of Mexico. The text by Gabriel Brena provides history, insight into the culture and an understanding of the people of Mexico.

All in all, Mexico – A Higher Vision is a "coffee table" type of book that rises above many you may previously have seen. It is a book that you read, reread and enjoy for a long time to come.