Let's face it: nothing spoils the holiday season quite like shopping can. Getting the goods requires a tactical plan that would make MacArthur proud. Luckily, the intrepid editors of BookPage have run reconnaissance for readers, scouting out the hottest titles for the holidays. Armed with these great gift ideas the best in music, photography and dance you can cut those shopping skirmishes short and keep your inner Scrooge at bay.

Was ever a man more comely to look upon than Mikhail Baryshnikov? This specimen of physical perfection first entranced the world in 1974 with his thrilling defection from the Soviet Union while on tour with the Kirov Ballet in Canada. Impish, tousled and utterly endearing, he quickly became the darling of the dance world, working with the West's top choreographers and companies. Baryshnikov in Black and White (Bloomsbury, $60, 321 pages, ISBN 1582341869), a stunning collection of 175 performance and rehearsal photographs, follows the course of the star's career outside the Soviet block, spanning nearly three decades and showcasing the dancer's many abilities and moods from mischievous boy, to seductive satyr, to tortured madman.

Cataloguing Misha's greatest moments on the stage and in the theatre, the book features photos from ballet classics like The Nutcracker, as well as shots of modern works by Martha Graham, Paul Taylor and Mark Morris. The dancer's pure lines and remarkable versatility are dramatically documented here, as are his partnerships with primas like Natalia Makarova. The hooded eyes, the mighty thighs, the aura of melancholy all are unmistakably Misha. With an introduction by ballet critic Joan Acocella, this volume is a wonderful tribute to the greatest male dancer of our time.

Satisfaction for Stones fans Raunchy, rowdy and simmering with sexuality, The Rolling Stones stumbled onto the London pop scene in 1962, beginning a tumultuous 40-year career marked early on by the inimitable swagger of Mick Jagger, the cheekiness of Keith Richards, the dignified reserve of Charlie Watts and for a time the beatific beauty of Brian Jones. Also along for one of the wildest rides in rock n' roll history was Stones bassist Bill Wyman, a bluesman turned author and documentarian, whose terrific new book Rolling with the Stones combines more than 2,000 photographs with classic visuals and band artifacts, as well as behind-the-scenes stories about Mick and the boys. This mod, mad volume traces the arc of the group's career, capturing the trippy '60s and excessive '70s, dishing on chick sidekicks Marianne Faithfull and Bianca Jagger, and providing background info on classic blues-inflected albums like Sticky Fingers. Wyman also includes band bios, covering temporary Stone Mick Taylor along with Ron Wood, as well as input from the band about their musical influences, public and private lives, and the longevity of their legend. The ultimate Stones scrapbook, this vivid volume is the perfect gift for fans of the band Bill Graham once called "the biggest draw in the history of mankind." Wounds of war It was a war from which we've never recovered, fought in an era when pop culture collided with politics. Vietnam was nearly the unmaking of our nation, and now a stirring new volume collects classic images of the conflict snapped by Larry Burrows, one of the century's greatest photojournalists. With 150 color and black-and-white photographs, Larry Burrows Vietnam (Knopf, $50, 243 pages, ISBN 037541102X) delivers the drama of combat with remarkable sensitivity and detail. The intrepid Englishman who strapped himself to the open door of a plane in order to shoot some of the pictures featured in the book covered the conflict from 1962 until his death in 1971, when the helicopter he flew in was shot down near the Vietnam-Laos border. Published in Life magazine (for which Burrows went to work at the age of 16), each of the volume's 11 pictorial essays distills the nightmare reality of battle: wounded children, trussed prisoners, Asian women wracked by grief, soldiers stealing sleep amidst the litter of American luxuries chocolate and matches, cigarettes and soap, the bright wrappers emphatic on green grass. With an introduction by David Halberstam, Larry Burrows Vietnam is a profoundly moving visual reminiscence of war.

 

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