Walter Iooss may be the most loved and least known man in America. What does he do? Fellow beach denizen Warren Buffett sums up Iooss' job nicely in his introduction to Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: Heaven: "For 38 years Walter has been taking the most beautiful women on the planet to its most extraordinary natural wonders, to photograph them mostly naked. Simple." Yes, Iooss has been taking photographs for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue special since the 1970s, and Sports Illustrated: Heaven is a gorgeous collection of some of these photos.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: Heaven showcases some of the world's most famous models, many of whom got their start thanks to Iooss' pictures. This collection includes: Christie Brinkley, Cherly Tiegs, Carol Alt, Kathy Ireland, Heidi Klum, Rachel Hunter, Rebecca Rominj, Paulina Porizkova, Tyra Banks, Marisa Miller, Brooklyn Decker and Bar Refaeli. These are some of the most beautiful women in the world, from the 1970s to the present, photographed at their very best.

Belinda Carlisle sang that "Heaven is a place on Earth" but Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: Heaven makes a good case for Heaven being divided among several places on the globe. The pictures here were taken in numerous locations -- from Hawaii and Montauk to Brazil, Vietnam and the Maldives -- and Iooss' photos display the beauty of nature as well as that of his human subjects.

For those who can get their minds past the beautiful women here, this Sports Illustrated collection has something many of their other swimsuit collections lack: organization. At the start of this book is a table of contents that includes the location of the photographs, the models photographed there, and the years in which those pictures were taken. (The models' names are also printed near their photos throughout the book as well.) This simple feature makes navigating through this book, to find a particular photo or set of photos, very easy.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: Heaven also has comments by Iooss about both the locations and the models. While most of these comments are about how beautiful the women are, there are a few surprises, like Iooss didn't like his photo of Cheryl Tiegs that launched her into stardom or how he didn't like the Cayman Islands: "There is no place to go, the whole island is overbuilt."

If there's one complaint with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: Heaven it's that, for some reason, a few of the photos were made into collages or had graphics put on their borders -- and if there were ever a bunch of photos that didn't need anything extra, it's these! But that's a small price to pay for seeing a master of photography displaying almost four decades of what may be the most beautiful women in the world -- in swimsuits! In a coffee table book! 'Nuff said.

Overall grade: A+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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