Is the future of print publishing in increasingly regional magazines? We’re not sure, but we think so, and we’re seeing more and more magazines retrench by focusing on niches and local areas. On visiting the Hakkaisan area (to write our Spirit of Spirits article), we discovered Uonuma, a small but attractive magazine representing that area’s culture and history. At 32 pages and costing only 100 yen, it is full color and features great photography, much of it archival, on sturdy paper. It’s almost all Japanese, but the pictures and good design alone make it worth checking out. Hakkaisan locals are obviously proud of their rural customs and they have one more reason to be—this seasonal magazine.


Robert D. Kaplan

Nobody has written more prolifically about subcultures and politics in the modern era than Robert D. Kaplan. Certainly, nobody has traveled to so many troubled areas of the world and written about them with such insight and clarity. His writing has appeared in many of the world’s most prominent English-language magazines, and his dozen or so books have even influenced government policy.

Decades old tensions and violence between different cultures and societies that reemerged after the Cold War is a frequent theme of his writing. So are Islamic societies. His work is, of course, controversial, but always stimulating.

In Balkan Ghosts, Kaplan analyzes the fractured politics, bloody history and ethnic strife of the Balkans with great perception and compelling narrative. Some of his earlier writings on the topic even foretold the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia. It seems prudent that we heed his warnings about the lingering potential for violence in the area.

Eastward to Tartary is another fascinating piece of travel writing in which the author travels from Hungary through the Caucasus to Western Turkmenistan. Throughout his journey, he writes of the cultures and ethnic people he meets, some of them high-level politicians, others, simple citizens. From anecdotes and observations drawing from his great learning, we begin to see the various countries and their sub-regions for all their complexity and uniqueness. Many find his books dark and pessimistic, but they act as a great window on segments of humanity we too often ignore or forget.



2000年に発表した「Eastward to Tartary」も興味をそそられる旅行記で、ハンガリーからトルクメニスタンまでの長い道中で取材した事柄を記した本作では、現地のトップクラスの政治家から一般住民まで、彼が出会った様々な人々とその文化を多角的な視点で描いている。明かされる数々の秘話とハイレベルの学識に裏付けられた観察力によって、登場する多くの国々やその周辺地域の各民族間の複雑な関係や彼らが持つ独自性といったものが浮き彫りにされる。彼の著作に暗く悲観的なイメージを感じる読者も多いかもしれない。しかし彼の本は我々がともすれば忘れがちな“人間らしさ”というものの本質をより深く知るための手段となってくれるだろう。著書の多くは邦訳版も出ているので是非読んでみて欲しい。

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