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Icons of American architecture : from the Alamo to the World Trade Center /

Main Author: Langmead, Donald.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2009
Series: Greenwood icons.
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Review by Booklist Review

This newest addition to the Greenwood Icons series represents a departure from previous offerings. Instead of offering in-depth biographical treatments of iconic personalities representing various fields, this title offers detailed overviews of buildings and monuments. Topics reflect established criteria: subjects that challenge the status quo, influence millions, and affect history. The 24 structures under consideration are models of ingenious engineering and also cultural symbols that have captured people's imaginations. Each entry runs about 24 pages and begins with a brief introduction giving location, intended purpose, architectural style, and so forth. Next comes a detailed overview of what the building has come to represent in American popular culture, how the landmark has been portrayed in books and movies, and how these treatments have influenced public perception. Subsequent sections compare fact with fiction. Detailed accounts of the planning, politics, financing, construction, and critical reception either reinforce or refute popular myths. For example, the Empire State Building never featured a dirigible-mooring station, despite doctored period photos that seem to indicate so. Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater started falling down before it was ever completed, and there have been more than 1,200 documented suicide leaps off the Golden Gate Bridge. Occasional black-and-white photos and sidebars (brief biographies; an insert on Guantánamo Bay in the article on Alcatraz; etc.) accompany the text. Each entry ends with notes and suggestions for further reading. The rather staid presentation may take some selling, but once engaged, researchers will appreciate the thoroughness of the information and will find the stories compelling and satisfying. As with other selections in the Icons series, this offers a unique way to introduce the popular history of the U.S. to students and is recommended for most secondary collections. Collections supporting architectural programs will also want to consider it.--McBroom, Kathleen Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.