Picks and Pans Review: Cuba on the Verge: An Island in Transition

updated 05/26/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/26/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Edited by Terry McCoy

There are no vintage cars, grizzled cigarmakers or mambo kings—and in a coffee-table book on Cuba the absence of clichés is reason enough to be grateful. But McCoy gives readers more cause for rejoicing by collecting original essays from such writers as Arthur Miller and Susan Orlean to go with photos by Carrie Mae Weems, René Peña and others. The words are as powerful as the pictures. "The goal," writes McCoy, "is to convey Cuba...with a sense of accuracy and humanity."

Mission accomplished: From girl-friends in Havana playing dominoes to beautiful and eerily empty rural landscapes, this is a fresh and moving portrait of modern Cuba. And it's timely. As the U.S. government tightens its embargo by making it even more difficult for Americans to visit the island, these photos are the closest most outsiders will get to the Cuban people. (Bulfinch, $50)

BOTTOM LINE: Picture-perfect

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