Having a love of Italy, and photography, and knowing little of Koudelka's work, the description of the book (and generously reduced price) encouraged me to take a blind plunge, and buy this book. What a mistake that was. The images have nothing of the quality, or style that photographers such as Edwin Smith, Horst, List, De Biasi, Erwitt, and countless others lend to the country. Sadly the photographs are reproduced in an irredeemably deep and gloomy low key, there are no highlights, or sparkle in any of the images. Further the gushing description describes the images as being "panoramic". They are nothing of the sort. A panoramic photograph conventionally encompasses an extremely wide angle of view (in excess of 100 degrees). Most of these do not. Instead they are standard photographs cropped to a letter box shape. This only serves to exclude much of the frame which would otherwise give some meaning too, or add a compositional element to the image. A handful of images are totally appropriate to this crop, but only a handful, and they are by far the better ones. At least 50% of the pages are blank, and printed a uniform black which exacerbates the gloomy appearance still further.Well, that's definitely helped me make up my mind -- two copies, I think.
Sadly, though understandably, Amazon won't accept a properly ordered title as a return, otherwise this would have gone straight back. As for being beautifully bound, well, if square edged, thick, raw, cardboard, with gaffer tape on the spine, roughly cut paper and packing case graphics are `beautiful', then I happily admit to having too much taste and discernment for my own good.
I should point out that copies of Koudelka's Reconnaissance Wales (also bound in "raw cardboard, with gaffer tape on the spine") currently fetch £700. But photography is a broad church, and everyone is entitled to an opinion. And, after all, it's firmly-held opinions like those of this reviewer that help make books unbought, thus scarce and, ten years later, very sought after...
(Oh, and he's wrong about the Amazon returns policy, too).