The Center for Land Use Interpretation Newsletter

Book Reviews

Books New to the Shelves of the CLUI Library and Bookshop

Designing America’s Waste Landscapes, Mira Engler, Johns Hopkins, 2004.
In this in-depth overview of waste, landscape architect and historian Mira Engler works her way from the domestic to the societal landscapes of discarded material, and includes the creative interpretations of waste among the essential elements in bringing waste back into the circuit of consumption. Another very nice book done with the help of our friends at the Center for American Places.

Gunpowder, Alchemy, Bombards and Pyrotechnics: The History of the Explosive that Changed the World, Jack Kelly, Basic Books, 2004
Covers the 900 year history of gunpowder, from its early use in China in fireworks (the Chinese used it in bombs and other weaponry early on too) to its transition into the staple for all wars fought until the 20th Century, then back to just fireworks, when other things came along to replace it.

Yellow Steel: The Story of the Earthmoving Equipment Industry, William R. Haycraft, University of Illinois Press, 2000
A good basic and comprehensive description of the evolution of mobile heavy machinery, written by an industry insider, a retired caterpillar marketing executive. An interesting reflection of the changes society made to machines, and machines to society. They worked together, both the chicken and the egg.

A Field Guide to Sprawl, Dolores Hayden, W. W. Norton and Company, 2004
Low altitude color aerial photographs on one side of the spread, and a paragraph or two of text on the other, with each spread describing a word or phrase from developer/critical parlance. A bit arbitrary, and covering more than just “sprawl,” its a field guide in style and name, mostly. But its a nice idea to illustrate with examples concepts like “edge nodes,” “leapfrog,” “LULU,” “privatopia.”

Organization Space: Landscapes, Highways, and Houses in America, Keller Easterling, MIT Press, 1999
A look at some of the modernist systems that cover a lot of ground, like interstates and subdivisions, and some of the “systemicists” who conceived of them, like Norman Bel Geddes (highways), the TVA, and, most notably, Benton MacKaye, who was a fascinating visionary of the American whole. Easterling dredges up some revolutionary notions from his archives at Dartmouth.

Changing Mines in America, Peter Goin and C. Elizabeth Raymond, Center for American Places, 2004
The book covers eight major mining areas in the USA: the Mesabi Iron Range in Minnesota; the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania; Karnes County, Texas’ uranium mines; the radon health mines of Montana; Bingham Pit in Utah; Rawhide Nevada; Eagle Mountain, California; and American Flat, Nevada. Each region is a chapter, with an instructive essay about its history and present state, historical images, and Goin’s contemporary views. “Reality,” at its finest.

Riches to Rust: A Guide to Mining in the Old West, Erik Twitty, Western Reflections Publishing Company, 2002
A nice description of historic American mining technology, designed to help readers understand what they might find at old abandoned mines in the West. By the author of Blown to Bits in the Mine: A History of Mining and Explosives in the West.

Mining Camps Speak: A New Way to Explore the Ghost Towns of the American West, Beth and Bill Sagstetter, Benchmark Publishing of Colorado, 1998
A “hands on” guide to explaining what you might encounter at an old mining site, from understanding how boilers worked, to reading old cans. Has lots of images and photographs, which make it especially handy, including images of common objects as they appeared in mail order catalogs of the time, and lots of on site photos of debris.

Trailer Trash: The World of Trailers and Mobile Homes in the Southwest, Bob Moore, Route 66 Magazine Publishing, 2004
For about a hundred pages, this picture book shows the original ad for a particular model trailer (mostly large-ish but towable versions from the 1940s to the 1960s), coupled with a photograph of an actual specimen of the model, usually abandoned and/or battered, taken in the field by the author. This technique implies, without depicting, the life of use of the trailers, as if it were some kind of elusive truth. The best trailer book yet, and without a drop of pretension.

Airdrop, Jennifer Gabrys, Book Works, 2004
A beautiful little booklet about dropping things from the sky onto the ground by longtime CLUI associate Jennifer Gabrys. Published in the United Kingdom by Book Works.

The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime, William Langewiesche, North Point Press, 2004
A swashbuckling investigative journalistic account of tales of the current international sea trade, fishing industry, shipwrecks, piracy, and such.

Passing Through: An Existential Journey Across America’s Outback, Richard Menzies, Stephens Press, 2005
Nice to see a full-length book version of veteran travel writer and photographer Richard Menzies’ stories and images from his meetings with characters across Nevada and Utah, from Melvin Dummar, to Robert Golka. Menzies mounted an exhibit of this work at the CLUI in Wendover in 1999.

Superlatives USA: The Largest, Smallest, Longest, Shortest, and Wackiest Sites in America, Melissa L. Jones, Capital Books, 2005
This is no Guinness Book, its just another way to slice the plethora of Americanorama out there. But a few new things find their way into the roadside canon with every new publication of this sort, as things are always changing out there.

Uncle Sam’s Cabins: A Visitor’s Guide to Historic U. S. Forest Service Ranger Stations of the West, Les Joslin, Wilderness Associates, 1995
Just what the title says it is. This is a practical book covering 75 historic ranger and guard stations through out the western forestlands. Most are little log cabins in the woods, often built by the rangers themselves in the early 1900s, and some are large complexes, built during the WPA years. But its an interesting way of thinking about the Forest Service, as it established itself, like a sort of pioneer of federal bureaucracy, expressing itself through architecture.

The Chicago River: An Illustrated History and Guide to the River and its Waterways, David M. Solzman, Wild Onion Books, 1998
A nicely done look at this network of urban waterways, though as much a history and description of the city, as the waterways. Nearly half the book is devoted to a 70 mile loop around southern Chicago, entirely on the water, from downtown to Lake Michigan, then inland at Calumet and back through a network of lakes and canals, cutting through the industrial core of America’s “Second City.”

Waterworks: A Photographic Journey through New York’s Hidden Water System, Stanley Greenberg, Princeton Architectural Press, 2003
With an informative essay by Matthew Gandy, this book of very photographic black and white photographs (thankfully annotated) provides a vivid look at the water supply system for this largest - and most protective of its infrastructure - city. Completed in the months before the twin towers attack, this world is much more hidden now.