Spectacular Vernacular: The Adobe Tradition celebrates the beauty, variety, and efficiency of traditional adobe architecture in West Africa, Southwest Asia, and the American Southwest. In the severe desert climates of these areas, centuries of working with mud. in the construction of homes, mosques, and whole villages have given rise to a remarkable range of styles and forms as visually stunning as any fabled city of myth and imagination-or any postmodern metropolis.

By turns delicate and massive, precise and free-form, indigenous adobe architecture displays a formal richness matched by its technical ingenuity. In this abundantly illustrated book, architectural historian Jean-Louis Bourgeois and photographer Carollee Pelos act as guides to a little-known world, interpreting spectacular structures from Mali, Mauritania, and Burkina Faso to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, and elsewhere. In these images, white arabesques dance on red walls, and abacus-like mud colonnades shield farmers from sun and wind; mud is "twisted" into playful columns, sculpted into

ornate facade relief, and massed into lofty towers of majestic mosques. . This edition's new afterword discusses adobe politics in New Mexico, and illustrates the authors' own adobe home.

Noted Af1-icanist Basil Davidson contributes an introduction that surveys centuries of interplay between Islam, older cultures, and the deserts of Africa. and Asia.

JEAN-LOUIS BOURGEOIS and CAROLLEE PELOS are a writer-photographer team.

Pelos's photographs of adobe architecture toured for eight years as a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition. Several have appeared in The New York Times, Africa's Glorious Legacy (Time-Life), and Gardner's Art Through the Ages. Near Taos, New Mexico, she designed and helped build the couple's adobe home. Adorned with adobe high-reliefs-some Africa-inspired, some whimsical-the house will be featured in House Beautiful.

Bourgeois, an architectural historian, leads tours to Mali. Included in Spectacular Vernacular, his history of the Mosque of Djenne is on the reading list of Columbia University's core curriculum on Africa. Bourgeois is helping to organize a New Mexico adobe conference. Its goal is to revitalize the local tradition of constructing low-cost, family-built, adobe homes.

Basil Davidson has written numerous books on the culture and history of Africa, including Modern Africa and Ghana: An African Portrait.