According to the Guinness World Records, at over five by seven feet
(and 133 pounds), this staggeringly beautiful photographic book is the largest published book in the world--about one of the world's smallest countries.
Bhutan is the last intact Himalayan kingdom. Roughly the size of Switzerland but with a population of about 700,000 people, Bhutan may be diminutive, yet it is home to one of the most astonishingly diverse natural and cultural ecologies on earth. It is often called "the last Shangri-la" and with good reason. The pristine environment and incomparably kindhearted people make this a truly extraordinary place.
The book, Bhutan, is a visual odyssey across the kingdom. Teams from M.I.T. and Friendly Planet took over 40,000 photographs on four extensive expeditions across the country. They flew by helicopter, rode mountain ponies, trekked with packhorses and yaks, and journeyed by caravan on farflung roads and foot trails across the Bhutanese Himalaya. Local students, like Choki Lhamo (a 14-year-old girl from Trongsa who aspires to become a doctor) and Gyelsey Loday (the son of the head lama in the village of Phongmey), joined these ambitious trips and helped with the photography in order to share a corner of their world. The stunning imagery in the book loosely follows these journeys. Portraits of people are lifesized (or bigger). Panoramas convey some of the staggering sweep of the mountains and the awesome ancient architecture.
Bhutan begins appropriately with something very special. Renowned artist and author, David Macaulay, created an atlas of the country expressly for this book. Masterfully drawn, the map is surrounded by sketches of some of Bhutan's most salient features: massive dzongs, Himalayan peaks, stupas and other impressions decorate the map, almost as if they were pages torn from the journal of a travelling artist.
Bhutan is a technological tour de force, visually breathtaking, socially meaningful, and a powerful reminder that there are places and people whose beauty and grace is endlessly worth cherishing. This is the ultimate photographic book.