13 MARCH 1953, Page 26

Our World from the Air. By E. A. Gutkind. (Chatto

and Windus. 63s.) DR. GUTKIND has compiled an international survey of man and his environment from a wide range of aerial photographs. Such photographs, he contends, give a truer view of the world. Certainly they supply • a new slant on many features and character- istics which we are accustomed to overlook, or to accept without further question. The book is divided into several sections under the general headings of "Fear and Security" (early and fortified dwellings), "Confidence and Adjustment" (agricultural systems, public services, and the growth of archi- tectural awareness),'Aggressiveness and Disintegration " (industries and unsystematic expansion), " Responsibility and Unifica- tion" (decentralisation, town-planning, the control of traffic). Archaeologists, architects and ecologists will find this selection parti- cularly useful, while the lay reader can derive considerable enjoyment from a less specialised study of national characteristics as revealed from above. The tightly packed houses and tiny fields of the Japanese peasantry contrast almost embarrassingly with the generous apportionment of less populated farm lands, while such urgent present-day problems as misappropriation and wastage of land ate quickly brought home. Dr. Gutkind is a reformer, and his book has a mission and a message.. His often acid captions, with their underlying note of nostalgia for the days before learning was identified with specialisation—"a characteristic vice of our age"—add strength