Books: A Shelf of Season's Readings

New volumes celebrate nature, history and art

OVER $100

José Alcina Franch, professor of American anthropology at the University of Madrid, combines scholarship and a curatorial eye to produce Pre-Columbian Art (Abrams; 614 pages; $125). Franch provides a systematic survey of the once powerful civilizations that flourished in Mexico and Central and South America before 16th century Spaniards spread destruction in their frenzy for New World gold. Pre-Columbian art, the author notes, drew on a staggering variety of mythologic forms. Similarities between the designs of ancient America and Asia are not coincidental; prehistoric...

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