Found Object

Warrior-gymnasts in Tonkin, Vietnam, 1909

French overlords in colonial-era Vietnam make the locals do ridiculous things

Charles de Gaulle campaign poster

After the attacks by Islamic State in Paris the old slogan “With You, For You” is fitting

My family in central Turkey, 1948

A nothing moment on their travels that seems to capture a life now lost


New York City Illustrated, 1910

A century on, a tourist souvenir reveals the architectural wonders of a city long lost

The ancient theater in Sabratha, Libya

Anarchy in post-Gaddafi Libya sends me into storage to find photos I took on my trip there in 2004

Susanita in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, 1914

A too-grown-up girl bearing a Diane Arbus expression a century ago on an Argentine beach


Boat expedition possibly on Lake Titicaca, Peru, c1940s

On a lake in Peru, all the elements came together in a near perfect composition

Interview with History by Oriana Fallaci, 1976

Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci lost the plot at the end but she was a wonder in her prime

Portrait of a boy, Paris, early-20th C

A magnificent portrait found in Paris leads to two legendary photographers


Indian studio portraits, 20th century

Trolling the markets of Bombay and Delhi for compelling portraits of ordinary citizens

The Aldo Moro assassination, Reggio-Emilia, Italy, 1978

A prized book of Italian newspapers and a dead terrorist; is there a connection?

Hand-drawn ryokan map, Kyoto, Japan, 1990

How inexpertly drawn kanji led me out of Asia to the Middle East and Europe


Espresso glasses, Fes, Morocco, 2008

A triumph of quotidian design from the medina in Fès

Vietnam Chante revolutionary songs, Paris, France, c1967

Employing everything from martial chants to opera in support of revolution in Vietnam

Cultures of Independence, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2007

A scrap book, of sorts, of a cool, modernizing Cambodia in the 1960s that few realize ever existed


Transition: An International Review

Transition began in Uganda in 1961; by the late-1990s it was perhaps the finest magazine on earth

A vial of Saharan sand from the Acacus region in Libya

The Acacus felt so remote that, now, only something as material as sand confirms I was really there

Sharia El Aziz Osman street sign, Cairo, Egypt

I used to live on this street in Zamalek and have now given it to the protagonist in my novel


Portraits from Lima, Peru, 1916

Tiny pictures from Peru of men in uniform and the women they courted

Hypnotism for Everybody by Pandit Lakshmi Doss, Chennai, India, 2004

It reflects a particularly Indian fondness for mystical possibility paired with a gift for gab

A Savage War of Peace by Alistair Horne

The best book about the 9/11 attacks and war in Iraq, though it is about France in 1950s Algeria


Film of a garden party in Alexandria, Egypt c1920s

A lifestyle now lost captured on a film that cannot be watched

Samandal comic book, debut issue, 2008, Beirut, Lebanon

An eclectic mix of graphic styles and languages that captures the cultural mixed-up-ness of Beirut

Daunt Books tote bag, Marylebone, London

The bag that created a security risk in Beirut, Lebanon