New Wave: Facts About Flags [book review]

By Ted Kaye
Originally published in The Vexilloid Tabloid #31, December 2011

New Wave -- Facts about Flags.  5”x7”, full color, 144 pages   Black Dog Publishing (2011) ISBN:  978-1-907317-30-9
Libby Waite (Ed.).  New Wave: Facts about Flags. 5”x6.5”, full color, 160 pages Black Dog Publishing (London, 2011) ISBN: 978-1-907317-30-9

Many of us like to give flag books as gifts to those who don’t yet fully understand why flags appeal to us.  Here’s one that merits a place in the “present drawer”.

New Wave is not the typical flag book—a compilation of flags of the world arranged by country.  While it devotes a few pages in the back to national flags and some sub-national sets (Brazil, Canada, Spain, U.S.A.), it is more a book about flags.  Sections cover:  The History of the Flag, Colours, National Flag Stories, Twentieth Century Flags, Flag Families, Religious Flags, Protest Flags, Flag Etiquette, Flags at Sea, Sports Flags, Popular Culture, Sovereign Flags, and Flag Terms.

A pocket-sized paperback, New Wave uses a bold graphic style with large blocks of color and a very dynamic layout.  It would engage both a younger reader and an adult.  It has color on every page.  While a British book, hardly any aspects of it would jar an American or Canadian reader.  And though Max and Patrick found some factual errors in our last meeting, it is well-researched and quite accurate.  Interestingly, no author is credited, as if the book were a team effort at its London publishing house.

New Wave is part a compilation of flag trivia, part a mini-reference book, and part a series of short articles on several flag-related topics.

The fun section on Fictional Flags probably makes it the only flag book with an illustration of Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.  In a shout-out to vexillologists, the flag of FIAV is included among the International Flags.

Its own blurb correctly says “Spanning geography, politics, history, culture, design, and art and presented in an accessible and refreshing format, New Wave is an entertaining exploration of the diversity of flags, as well as the rituals and communication aspects that inform them.”

(For more information, check out Black Dog Publishing’s page for this book.)

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