Gifts for Black History Month Revisiting an era that rent the nation, King: The Photobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. is the perfect way for readers to commemorate Black History Month. The first of its kind and a wonderful gift book, King is an intimate look at the life of a multifaceted figure. Told in graphic black and white, King's story unfolds in a series of photographs, some of which have never been seen before, and the result is a visual retrospective almost as mighty as the man himself.

Photographer Bob Adelman assembled the starkly beautiful, sobering images that comprise this volume, and it's a detailed compilation that spans more than a decade. With authoritative text written by National Book Award winner Charles Johnson, this in-depth look at one of our most revered leaders is organized around the major events in King's life, from the 1957 prayer pilgrimage in Washington, D.C., to the Nobel Prize award ceremony in Oslo in 1964. But most touching are the simple moments in which the great man seems mortal: King dozing in a chair in an airport; struggling over the composition of a sermon; having a strained moment at home with his wife Coretta. While documenting the life of King, the book also captures the essence of a violent epoch, presenting the triumphs and trials that characterized the civil rights movement and doing so with an intensity that makes the events of the '50s and '60s feel strangely immediate. Most importantly, King penetrates the surface of its subject, presenting both the public and the private sides of an icon, a superman of sorts who was, after all, human.

Black history is at the reader's fingertips with Velma Maia Thomas' ingenious three-dimensional book Freedom's Children: The Passage from Emancipation to the Great Migration . The second volume in a series chronicling black history and the sequel to Thomas' best-selling Lest We Forget, Freedom's Children addresses the years following the Civil War, examining the challenges faced by slaves tasting liberty for the first time. With illustrations, photographs and one-of-a-kind interactive elements, this intriguing book requires reader participation. A letter from a Freedmen's Bureau agent is tucked into an envelope. A miniature version of The Freedmen's Third Reader a primer studied by illiterate slaves invites perusal. A ticket for the Colorado and Southern Railway, which bore freedmen and freedwomen west in search of better lives, and script money folded into pockets lend an air of authenticity to Thomas' narrative, making Freedom's Children something of a fold-out museum, a mini-archive. Thomas' illuminating text, which follows the lives of former slaves, along with the replicas of documents and artifacts that illustrate the era, make Freedom's Children both an invaluable work of scholarship and a beautiful gift volume.

A book that delivers the nobility, beauty and dignity of the world's most mysterious continent, Sensual Africa by photographer Joe Wuerfel captures the essence of a place and its people in pictures that are sheer poetry. Wuerfel visited the Cape Verde Islands, Tanzania and Namibia, where he lived among a nomadic tribe of herdsmen called the Himba, and the results are images tempered by a golden tint, photographs that have the warm haze of yellowed lace, of something aged. Dressed in calfskin loincloths and beaded belts, the bodies of the Himba seem burnished. At times, in this light, Africa itself appears apocalyptic a landscape yellow-white, barren and bone-dry in which zebras look otherworldly, and black baobab trees stand like supplicants beneath an unyielding sky. In his travels through Africa, Wuerfel captured archetypal images of the masculine and the feminine, of youth and age. Young Himba girls flirty yet demure seem to be sharing a secret; Tanzanian women mourn, their heads shaven in honor of the dead; a bare-chested Himba boy runs with a bow and arrow. Foreign yet familiar, the postures of these isolated people transcend language and culture and remind us of what it means to be human. In their gestures, we can see ourselves.

An interview with photographer Peter Beard, who has spent 25 years on the continent, is also included in Sensual Africa. A remarkable visual experience, this is a stunning volume that Africaphiles will love.

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