The Center for Land Use Interpretation Newsletter

Book Reviews

Books New to the Shelves of the CLUI Library and Bookshop

Bring Back the Buffalo! A Sustainable Future for America’s Great Plains
Ernest Callenback, University of California Press, 1996
There are now over 200,000 buffalo in isolated pockets in the country, from islands in the Great Salt Lake, to celebrity ranches. This book presents a reasoned argument for the continued reintroduction of this unique American animal, which once had a population of sixty million roaming the plains. By the author of Ecotopia.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: A Biography
Burt Chernow, St. Martin's Press, 2001
The official, authorized biography of the landscape wrapping couple, starting with an image of Christo’s great grandfather, and ending with a description of their daily routine at their home/studio/gallery on Howard Street in New York City, where they listen to Mozart- exclusively- everyday.

Death, Daring, and Disaster: Search and Rescue in the National Parks
Charles “Butch” Farabee, Jr., Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 2001
Nearly 400 accounts, often brief, of the at times incredible, strange, absurd, and tragic situations that are bound to come up in a National Park system, where extreme geography meets millions of visitors, looking for fun.

Designs on the Land: Exploring America from the Air
Alex S. MacLean, Thames & Hudson, 2003
More than just eye candy, Alex MacLean (who also did Taking Measures Across the American Landscape, with James Corner) has created an incredible inventory of forms by flying continuously it seems, at low altitude, taking photos of everything. Patterns emerge from his avalanche of images of the landscape. Included is an interview with him by Gilles Tiberghien, author of the monumental book Land Art.

Encyclopedia of American Prisons
Edited by Marilyn D. McShane and Frank P. Williams III, Garland Publishing, 1996
This five hundred page, alphabetically ordered overview of incarceration in the United States provides a concise and inclusive picture of prison issues, in a manner that is clear and accessible to the non-professional.

Great Projects: The Epic Story of the Building of America, from the Taming of the Mississippi to the Invention of the Internet
James Tobin, Free Press, 2001
The eight projects featured in this book have been described at great length before, but this well illustrated book does a good job of linking these projects, and collecting images and graphics in one volume. Included are the flood-control works of the Mississippi and Colorado Rivers, Edison’s lighting system and the spread of electricity across the nation, the Croton Aqueduct, Boston’s Big Dig, and the Internet.

Gone: Photographs of Abandonment on the High Plains
Steve Fitch, University of New Mexico Press, 2003
Gorgeous photographs (especially the classrooms) of decayed interiors of abandoned homes and schools (primarily), showing floors encrusted in pigeon poop, rotten carpets, fallen drop ceilings, collapsed plaster, and other touches of home.

Great White Fathers: The Story of the Obsessive Quest to Create Mt. Rushmore
John Taliaferro, PublicAffairs, 2002
It’s hard to think very much about Mount Rushmore, as it is so - monolithic. But when you do, it becomes more than simply astounding. It helps to ensure that fact will nearly always trump fiction. This book is a simply told story of the man behind the faces, the sculptor and Great Man himself, Gutzon Borglum, and how he was able to convince people to help him carve four giant presidential heads out of living rock.

Ideal Cities: Utopianism and the (Un)Built Environment
Ruth Eaton, Thames and Hudson, 2001
It seems there is an infinite number of ways to slice this subject, and this new big book presents another POV, with some nice images of historic precedents, from colonial times to the Renaissance, as well as the more contemporary notions of Archigram, SITE, and Superstudio.

In Advance of the Landing: Folk Concepts of Outer Space
Douglas Curran, Abbeville Press, 2001
This 1985 classic was updated and expanded in 2001, and remains a unique member of a now crowded field of campy, folksy, ufological cultural research and documentation books, and among the most sympathetic of the genre (though there is always room for more - sympathy, that is).

Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal
Zachary Karabell, Knopf, 2003
A compelling account of the construction of one of the most dramatic terrestrial engineering projects ever, which had the added dimension of being as much of a monumental geopolitical construction, a symbolic as well as a physical portal between Orient and Occident, Europe and the Middle East.

Reclaiming the American West
Alan Berger, Princeton Architectural Press, 2003
A fantastic examination and portrayal of mining landscapes in the American West, especially the numerous aerial photographs that show the relationship between pit and spoil, and the more subtle contours of reclaimed sites.

Robert Smithson: Learning from New Jersey and Elsewhere
Ann Reynolds, MIT Press, 2003
Great addition to the Library of Smithson, as indicated by the last two sentences of the book: “Smithson was an archivist, and his work remains part of his archive. The relationship between the two, - the work and the archive - though not strictly parallel, consists of ‘reflections reflecting reflections.’” Amen.

The Secret Architecture of our Nation’s Capitol
David Ovason, HarperCollins, 2000
Looks at the influence of Masonic principles and practices on the planning of Washington DC, and at the Masonic symbolism of some of its architectural ornament and sculpture. At times fascinating, the book dwells especially on astrologic symbols and patterns.

The Stadium: The Architecture of Mass Sport
Edited by Michael Provoost, NAI Publishers, 2000
The catalog of this exhibit, shown at the Netherlands Architecture Institute, stands alone as an interesting survey of the history and current form of this often truly bizarre, singular, yet complex type of structure.

Written on the Land
Mark Ruwedel, Presentation House Gallery, 2002
The catalog of a traveling exhibit, traversing Canada over the next two years, of the photographs of Mark Ruwedel, seasoned explorer and documentor of the incidental inscriptions on the western American landscape.