When the author and his wife traveled to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to visit and learn about the ethnic settlements in the mountain highlands and river deltas, no book was intended. They sought only to meet people and explore their environs. What transpired instead was an eye-opening experience about human adaptability, the incredible contrasts between rural and city life still present in this 21st century, a reflection on life’s values. They returned with more than 10,000 photographs and a lot to ponder. Contrasts 21c is a photo essay about people and places in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia that hopes to bring attention to the cultural diversity of this region and its challenges. The warmth of the people they met, their adaptability and spirit are what inspired this book.
The mountainous terrains, lowlands and banks of the Mekong and Red rivers – lands of stunning beauty – are home to a rich diversity of cultures, an admixture of ancient tradition and present-day reality. From linear villages lining roadsides and shorelines, to small hamlets and large cities, this is a story best experienced by exploration, best told through its images – the people – their faces, their eyes and often their smiles; and these most incredible places. 234 pages of the author’s select photographs interspersed with text and maps tell this story of 21st-century contrasts, the cultural diversity of this region, and its challenges.

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About the author:

Bill Caplan’s sensitivity to the connectivity of people, the human condition, and the built and natural environments has developed over a long career engaging high technology programs around the globe, from the human genome project to space exploration. A decade of architectural and environmental research culminated in Buildings Are for People (Libri Publishing 2016) followed by this photojournalistic essay Contrasts 21c: People & Places – Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia (Libri Publishing 2018). Caplan has been photographing people and places on five continents for over 40 years. He holds a Master of Architecture from Pratt Institute and a Materials Engineering degree from Cornell.