The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
Almost certainly Taschen do not set a social agenda when producing their coffee table flick-throughs.
But when glancing at the exclusive environs inhabited by China's nouveau riche it is hard not to be taken aback by the soulessness of it all.
There are pages upon pages of interiors with the personality of an upmarket furniture store catalogue peddling a Chinese new year special offer.
There's not a bookshelf in sight denoting the slightest interests beyond the clamour for wealth accumulation, material opulence and status.
Perhaps it would have been unrealistic to expect a more inclusive panorama of living in China without its obvious inequities spoiling the self-satisfaction around well-to-do dinner tables.
So notable is the absence of any trace of human activity in these habitats that the title becomes largely a misnomer. Ironically, often the most informative vistas can be glimpsed through the windows on the outside.
The disappointment is somewhat soothed by the 600-year-old circular housing estates in Fujian built and still lived in by the Hakka people (pictured).
Each houses 200 to 400 families and they appear as fortresses from the outside but open out with balconies and walkways to embrace inner yards.
Built up to five stories high, using earth and wood, they are miracles of environmentalism born out of necessity. Intrigued? Look up the Hakka houses and people on the internet.
But before you do, reflect on this.
At one point in the 1960s the ever-so-clever CIA sent an agent there suspecting the estate of housing a secret nuclear plant.