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25 Years On: Rare Photographs of Tiananmen Square Protests Go on Sale

Twenty five years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, a remarkable collection of photographs documenting the events surrounding the government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters has been listed for sale on AbeBooks.com.

Sixty-five photographs from the student-led protests in Beijing are for sale from Upper Valley Books & Paper in Ascutney, Vermont, for $6,500. The collection includes 12 black and white photographs, and 53 color photographs.

The images were taken between late April and June 1989. The photographer, or photographers, are unknown. The photographs were formerly the property of Wang Dan, one of the student leaders of the pro-democracy movement. Photographs and other materials relating to the Tiananmen protests have been suppressed by the Chinese government.

These photos shows marches, rallies, banners, hand-made posters, signs and cartoons, as well as memorials to the dead after the protests were crushed by the Chinese government on June 3 and 4.

“Most of these photographs were printed in December 1990, and stamped thus, long after the protest movement was smothered,” John Waite of Upper Valley Books & Paper wrote in an email. “This indicates the film likely was smuggled out of China and later processed in the US or another English-speaking nation.”

The protests began in April following the death of Hu Yaobang, a leading proponent within the Chinese Communist Party for reform.

Wang Dang was arrested and held without trial for nearly two years. After his trial, he served another two years in prison before being expelled from China. He later studied at Harvard and now lives in the United States.

The images can be divided into four general categories:

  • Marches and gatherings of protesters in Tiananmen Square;
  • Posters, banners, signs, cartoons, and open letters displayed by the protesters;
  • Protesters taking action against military or police vehicles prior to the crackdown on June 4;
  • Marches and demonstrations by students, teachers, and government employees in the city of Hefei (Anhui Province) shortly after the crackdown in Beijing.

There is also one black and white press photo of Wang Dan addressing the crowd in Tiananmen Square.

The hand-made banners document student groups from various universities and technical schools. The posters, banners, signs and cartoons show a range of political expressions and demands made by the student groups. These particular images are rare examples of the enormous amount of political ephemera generated by the various  protest groups for the demonstrations.

The actions taken by protesters, either to defend themselves or provoke authorities, are not well-known in the West due to the Chinese government’s suppression of documentation relating to the events. Photographic evidence that some protesters acted violently and the varied nature of the actual politics of the protest groups is rare.

The crackdown by the government began on the night of 3 June with lethal violence against civilians in various locations around the city. Hundreds of protesters died that evening even before soldiers began to clear Tiananmen Square in the early hours of 4 June. The collection includes several photos of armored personnel carriers burning amid crowds of people, and images of an armored personnel carrier that has been commandeered by protesters.

By 5 June, the news of the events had spread to the West and the media began trying to piece together the events of the previous 48 hours.

Crowds and burned vehicles


Coming soon, the 2014 Twin Cities Antiquarian & Rare Book Fair

Twin Cities Antiquarian & Rare Book Fair is coming up soon. It takes place on June 27 and 28 in the Progress Center at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, and AbeBooks.com is proud to support the event. More than 50 booksellers will be offering antiquarian, fine, and rare books covering many subjects and genres. Visitors will be treated to first editions, fine bindings, vintage books, ephemera, and maps.

Legendary bookseller Ken Sanders from Salt Lake City will be speaking at the fair on Friday evening at 6pm. Sanders is much more than a seller of rare books, he is also the enemy of book thieves. His efforts to capture John Charles Gilkey were documented in the book, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett. His talk will be worth the admission alone.

On Saturday, visitors can have up to four books from their own collection evaluated by an expert. There will also be other speakers and the chance to win a $25 gift certificate by showing your book trivia knowledge.

“Aside from the rare books, there are also a good number of very affordable reading books,” said Rob Rulon-Miller, one of the Fair’s past organisers. Rulon-Miller Books is based in St Paul, Minnesota. “You will see many local history books and books about Minnesota. We partner with the Minnesota Historical Society with dealers submitting book lists to the society. I’ve seen book dealers come from as far away as Los Angeles to look for stock.”

Booksellers who are exhibiting include Midway Used & Rare Books from St. Paul, MN, David Christenson from Minneapolis, MN, and Steve Thorson from Austin, MN, as well as Sanders and Rulon-Miller.

  • Friday, June 27, 3pm to 8pm, $7 (which also includes admission on Saturday)
  • Saturday, June 28, 10am to 4pm, $5
  • Children 12 and under have free admission
  • High school and college students have free admission on Saturday with school ID

Visit the event’s website for more details. Dealers can still sign up for a booth at the event and anyone interested should contact Valerie Urban at valerie@urbanantiquaria.com


Meet Heather O’Donnell from Honey and Wax Booksellers

Enjoy this video of Heather O’Donnell from Honey and Wax Booksellers in Brooklyn. A former college teacher, Heather worked at Bauman Rare Books before starting her own bookselling business. She offers some beautiful rare books, including this copy of The Waves by Virginia Woolf and this copy of Thank You – You’re Welcome by Louis Slobodkin.


Bettie Page and the pin-up photography of Bunny Yeager

Bunny Yeager's Beautiful BacksidesBunny Yeager – the pin-up model turned pin-up photographer – died earlier this week at the age of 85. Yeager is particularly famous for her work with Bettie Page, whose career she helped to launch.

When she was 17 her family moved to Florida and she began working as a model. In 1953 she began taking photography night classes. For an assignment, she took photos of friends dressed in leopard-print swimsuits and one of her images was used on the cover of Eye magazine, kick-starting her professional career behind the camera.

She also took the still images of Bond girl Ursula Andress, in a cream bikini, in the 1962 007 movie Dr. No. Yeager’s peak came in the 1950s and 1960s.

More than 20 books of her photography were published between the mid-1960s to 2012 ranging from instructional guides for glamour snappers to glossy modern tributes.

Someone who is serious about Yeager’s work with Bettie Page can pick up this contact sheet for $6,000.

Books by and about Bunny Yeager

100 Girls by Bunny Yeager

How I Photograph Myself by Bunny Yeager

How I Photograph Nudes by Bunny Yeager

Camera in the Caribbean by Bunny Yeager

How to Photograph the Female Figure by Bunny Yeager

Bunny Yeager’s Photo Studies by Bunny Yeager

The Art of Glamour Photography by Bunny Yeager

Camera in Jamaica by Bunny Yeager

Bunny Yeager’s Bikini Girls of the 1950s

Bunny Yeager’s Flirts of the Fifties

Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom: Pin-up Photography’s Golden Era by Petra Mason


“in Wonderland” – a library of book titles inspired by Lewis Carroll

A signed copy of P.G. Wodehouse’s Barmy in Wonderland has sold for $1,267 (around £750) on AbeBooks.com. The book is a first edition published in April 1952 and has been signed by the author to his bibliographer, David Jasen, “To David, from Plum, P. G. Wodehouse”.  The novel was published as Angel Cake in the US a month after the UK edition.

The main character of Barmy in Wonderland is Cyril ‘Barmy’ Fotheringay-Phipps, who makes appearances in several Jeeves stories, and the book details his misadventures in the world of theatre. Wodehouse adapted Barmy in Wonderland from a play, The Butter and Egg Man, by George S. Kaufman.

Although I scan our most expensive sales on a daily basis, this one jumped out because of the book’s title. I wondered how many books have the words ‘in Wonderland‘ in their title? The answer is many – Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has inspired countless books. Clearly, Alice is not alone in visiting Wonderland. Here is a brief selection of ‘in Wonderland’ titles (although I have decided not to list “in Wonderland” erotica).

Shadows in Wonderland: A Hospital Odyssey by Colin Ludlow

Ali in Wonderland by Ali Wentworth

Adventures in Wonderland: A Decade of Club Culture by Sheryl Garratt

Lights Out in Wonderland by DBC Pierre

Pinocchio’s Adventures in Wonderland by Collodi

Cubby in Wonderland by Frances Joyce Farnsworth

Albert in Wonderland by Mary Agnes Connelly Ryan

Harris in Wonderland by Philip Reid

Yankees in Wonderland by Frank Woodford

An Outlaw in Wonderland by Lori Austin

Mr Tompkins in Wonderland by George Gamow

The Engineer in Wonderland : The 1966-67 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures by E.R. Laithwaite

Elvis in Wonderland by Bob Jope

Frankie in Wonderland: With Apologies to Lewis Carroll, the Originator and Pre-Historian of the New Deal by A. Tory


Copy of first Playboy Magazine sells for $2,000

A copy of the first ever Playboy Magazine, published in December 1953, has sold for $2,000 on AbeBooks.com. Aside from being a landmark moment in popular culture, the magazine famously features Marilyn Monroe on the cover (clothed) and on the centerfold (naked) against a red velvet background.

This issue is undated and cost 50 cents at the time. Apparently 53,991 copies were printed. The magazine had been produced by Hugh Hefner from his kitchen.

This is the only time that I have heard of a copy of the first Playboy for sale on AbeBooks since I joined in 2005, and it’s by far the most expensive copy of the magazine to sell through this marketplace. I think $2,000 might be a bargain.


Remembering Farley Mowat

Farley Mowat, the Canadian author, died last Wednesday, at the age of 92. I had not heard of him before moving to Canada but now I feel sad that Canada has lost one of its great writers of modern times. I have read three of his books – Cry Wolf, read aloud as the book at bedtime for my oldest daughter, The Desperate People (the follow up to People of the Deer) and A Whale for the Killing. All three are remarkable books with the capacity to make the reader think about nature.

How many authors have had their work debated in Parliament? Not many. People of the Deer was a Canadian sensation and raised awareness about the plight of the aboriginal people in this country. Cry Wolf is simply a beautiful book that appeals to children – it was the first piece of non-fiction I ever read to my daughter at bedtime and we were both fascinated by his stories of the wilderness.

I read a A Whale for the Killing just last year. It’s a stunning account of a trapped whale in Newfoundland and the cruelty it is subjected to. Everyone should read it. Mowat and his wife effectively sacrificed their home and their life in Newfoundland in order to try and save the whale. It’s a book that will make you very, very sad.

There is much to read about Mowat himself since his death, not all of it positive.

Signed copies of Mowat’s books are now becoming rather scarce.


The Best Books from British Columbia

The Sky is Falling by Kit PearsonBritish Columbia’s top authors, poets, and illustrators were honored this past weekend at the Lieutenant Governor’s BC Book Prizes Gala in Vancouver, BC.  Established in 1985, the BC Book Prizes consists of seven annual prizes, including prizes for fiction, poetry, and children’s literature. AbeBooks is a proud sponsor of the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize.

This year’s big prize, the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence, was awarded to beloved children’s author Kit Pearson.

In a career spanning three decades, Kit Pearson has demonstrated mastery in that most traditional of genres, the novel for young readers. In both her fantasies and her historical fiction she looks to the past: to Canada’s war guests, to the War of 1812, to Alberta in 1949, and to Mayne Island in the 1930s. She sees children as those residents of the past who are largely overlooked in the story of where we have come from.

- Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence jury

2014′s BC Book Prizes winners include CBC celebrity Grant Lawrence. David Stouck’s biography of architect Arthur Erickson took home two awards. Keep reading for the the complete list of prizes and winners.

BC Book Prizes

Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize: Anatomy of a Girl Gang by Ashley Little

Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize: Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life by David Stouck

Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize: The Place of Scraps by Jordan Abel

Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize: Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life by David Stouck

Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize: The New Normal by Ashley Little

Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize: How To, illustrated by Julie Morstad

Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award: The Lonely End of the Rink: Confessions of a Reluctant Goalie by Grant Lawrence


Pelican Books: The Flock Flies Again

Pelican Books

Created by Penguin Books, the Pelican Books imprint began in May of 1937, just two years after Penguin was founded.  Like Penguin, Pelican Books was born to fill a hole – in this case, affordable educational texts. The first title to boast the Pelican logo was The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism & Fascism by George Bernard Shaw. It was the first of thousands of Pelican titles to be published over the imprint’s 50 year lifespan. In the late 80s, Penguin discontinued Pelican Books after a slow decline in non-fiction sales.

Now, almost 30 years later, Pelican Books are spreading their wings for a second time. Today five new titles will adorn Pelican’s trademark blue cover. Unlike many of their predecessors, each new title has been originally commissioned.

Best known for his book How Many Friends Does One Person Need?, evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar discusses what makes us human in Human Evolution.

Economics: A User’s Guide is Ha-Joon Chang’s myth-busting introduction written for the general reader.

Scholar Melissa Lane talks history and politics in Greek and Roman Political Ideas.

Orlando Figes serves up a timely history lesson in Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991.

The Domesticated Brain by award-winning psychlogist Bruce Hood explains the mysteries of the human brain.

For more on vintage Pelican, check out Pelican Books: A Flock of Non-Fiction on AbeBooks.


Another hidden gem for bibliophiles: Bryn Mawr Bookstore

The Bryn Mawr Bookstore in Cambridge received a glowing write-up in the Boston Globe over the Easter weekend.

The problem with a secret is that once you tell it, it isn’t one anymore. The Bryn Mawr Book Store in Cambridge is under the radar, and I like it that way. It’s quiet, it’s small, it has a gazillion books, its prices are low, and it doesn’t have that picked-clean feeling you sometimes sense in a used bookstore, as if all the good finds have already been found. There. I’ve told you.

The shop’s entire stock is donated and all proceeds go to providing scholarships for prospective Bryn Mawr College students. They are listing more than 4,800 books on AbeBooks, including some interesting rare books. There is a signed first edition of DNA: The Secret of Life by pioneering scientist James D Watson, a signed first of In the American West 1979-1984 by photographer Richard Avedon and a signed first edition of Love Medicine by novelist Louise Erdrich.


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