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About the Cover Illustration

About the Cover Illustration

The figure on the cover of R in Action is captioned “A man from Zadar.” The illustration is taken from a reproduction of an album of Croatian traditional costumes from the mid-nineteenth century by Nikola Arsenovic, published by the Ethnographic Museum in Split, Croatia, in 2003. The illustrations were obtained from a helpful librarian at the Ethnographic Museum in Split, itself situated in the Roman core of the medieval center of the town: the ruins of Emperor Diocletian’s retirement palace from around AD 304. The book includes finely colored illustrations of figures from different regions of Croatia, accompanied by descriptions of the costumes and of everyday life.

Zadar is an old Roman-era town on the northern Dalmatian coast of Croatia. It’s over 2,000 years old and served for hundreds of years as an important port on the trading route from Constantinople to the West. Situated on a peninsula framed by small Adriatic islands, the city is picturesque and has become a popular tourist destination with its architectural treasures of Roman ruins, moats, and old stone walls. The figure on the cover wears blue woolen trousers and a white linen shirt, over which he dons a blue vest and jacket trimmed with the colorful embroidery typical for this region. A red woolen belt and cap complete the costume.

Dress codes and lifestyles have changed over the last 200 years, and the diversity by region, so rich at the time, has faded away. It’s now hard to tell apart the inhabitants of different continents, let alone of different hamlets or towns separated by only a few miles. Perhaps we have traded cultural diversity for a more varied personal life—certainly for a more varied and fast-paced technological life.

Manning celebrates the inventiveness and initiative of the computer business with book covers based on the rich diversity of regional life of two centuries ago, brought back to life by illustrations from old books and collections like this one.

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