Every prime minister and president in the world has received a copy of this book and over 12 million people have seen the associated exhibition. But somehow it had passed me by until Liz Kent from the Bishopstoke Greening Campaign mentioned it to me at the weekend.
Having checked out the website I ordered a copy and it arrived today. I am so grateful to Liz for making me aware of such an important book.
To describe it simply would be to say that Mark Edwards, the author/photographer, has illustrated the lyrics of Bob Dylan's impassioned 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall'. That simple description, however, belies the immense thought and care that has gone in to create one of the most powerful sets of images I can remember seeing.
Mark's project to produce the book and the exhibition began forty years ago when he was lost in the desert and was rescued by a Tuareg nomad who helped him and, somewhat bizarrely, played him the Dylan track on an old tape recorder. Like Edwards I had never really been a fan of Mr Dylan's really early work and knew the song, as I guess a lot of people do, from Bryan Ferry's 1970s interpretation. Even then I had not paid a lot of attention to the lyrics. But try listening to them now.
What you will hear is line upon line of stark and troubling imagery. A series of such dark and brooding suggestions all heading in the same direction - that sooner or later there be terrible consequences - Hard Rain.
Mark has seen some equally catastrophic scenes as he has travelled the globe and the pictures he has taken when combined with the song's lyrics are stunning. The effect made me cry.
So this is not a coffee table book in the normal sense of the word but it is a very powerful tool that can be used to awaken people from their indolence about the world and what we are, collectively, doing to it. The responses from Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Caroline Lucas and many others are included in the new edition and you can feel (I think), from what they say, that they were moved too.
People often say these days 'how can we get more of the unconverted on board?' - well I would recommend giving people this book as a gift as part of a strategy.