Books, Noted
A sampling of books new to the shelves of The Center's library

Land and Environmental Art
Jeffry Kastner and Brian Wallis, Phaidon, 1998
Another big book on a big subject, this one surveys the work of over one hundred practitioners of the field, with interviews, images, reprints of essays, articles, and then some original thoughts. Much of the images and text is familiar (Smithson, Heizer, Long, Holt, De Maria...), yet this is one of the broadest nets yet cast around the subject, with some new additions to the canon.

Architecture Transformed: A History of the Photography of Buildings from 1839 to the Present
Cervin Robinson and Joel Herschman, MIT Press, 1987
This large format black and white photography book knowledgeably examines the history of the art of architectural photography from an art-historical perspective. A great work which unfortunately has no color plates, and less contemporary material than some feel it should.

Art and Landscape in Charleston and the Low Country
John Beardsley, Spacemaker Press, 1998
A large format color photo book that is a sort of catalog of the site-specific work commissioned for an exhibition entitled "Human/Nature: Art and Landscape in Charleston and the Low Country." Beardsley, the author of the great volumes Earthworks and Beyond and Gardens of Revelation, discusses the context (the natural and built environment of the South Carolina region), and the primarily outdoor, sculptural art of the exhibit, which is remarkable especially for its welcome blurring of the distinctions between "folk" or "visionary" art and more academic, trained "high" art. Most photography in the book is by Len Jenshel, an interesting landscape photographer.

Life at the Top: Tales, Truths, and Trusted Recipes from the Mount Washington Observatory
Eric Pinder, Down East Books, 1997
The summit of New Hampshire's Mount Washington is a tiny island of extremes in the sky above the rolling hills of New England. Known as the home of the "World's worst weather," where the highest recorded surface wind speed of all time was recorded in 1934 (231 miles per hour) the meteorological observatory is a unique outpost in an Arctic world of strange ice formations and weather phenomena. The book, written by a staff scientist, though amiable, only briefly hints at the wonders of this place. Most of the book is actually a cook book for starchy pasta dishes consumed by the cabin-fevered crew of the observatory.

Building the Workingman's Paradise: The Design of American Company Towns
Margaret Crawford, Verso Press, 1995
A great subject which needs more attention. Crawford examines the historical period from the late 1700's to the 1920's, and indicates that company towns, in the USA at least, are pretty much a thing of the past (though American companies may be responsible for the maquiladora factory towns of the Mexican border region). New or expanding industries in relatively remote places, though, still seem to build corporate housing, such as the trailervilles of Hadley and Primm, Nevada.

The Chunnel: The Amazing Story of the Undersea Crossing of the English Channel
Drew Fetherston, Random House, 1997
The story of the companies, engineers and politicians that made the long-dreamt (and feared) connection between Britain and the Continent a reality. The Chunnel is one of the largest engineering projects of all time, and this detailed account of its construction is apt and compelling.

The Chakra System of Mount Desert Island
P. Chris Kaiser, North Atlantic Books, 1998
In this interesting union of mind, body, and geography, the author describes his spiritual journeys on the picturesque landscape of this island off the coast of Maine (much of which is Acadia National Park). He develops the theory that, though there are "power places" all over the world, Mount Desert Island may be the heart chakra for the Western Hemisphere. The book is intended to serve as a guidebook to the spiritual and emotional topography of this powerful island.

Devil's Bargain: Tourism in the Twentieth Century West
Hal K. Rothman, University Press of Kansas, 1998
A fascinating examination of the evolution, nature, and effects of tourism on the western United States, focusing on the likes of the Grand Canyon, ski towns, and Las Vegas, and the "corporate colonialism" that this growing industry represents.

Images of an American Land
dited by Thomas Carter, University of New Mexico Press, 1997
A collection of recent scholarly essays in the field of vernacular architecture, looking at case studies in the American west. ItÌs good to see that the purview of this academic discipline is finally branching out from the American northeast, south and midwest to include this last region.

The Gas Station in America
John A. Jackle and Keith A. Sculle, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
Part of the Creating the North American Landscape series of publications from Johns Hopkins, and in cooperation with the Center for American Places, this book goes beyond simply a study of the form of gas stations, to consider their social and symbolic significance. As the last lines of the book plainly state: "It is time to look at and take seriously the American gasoline station as part of the American experience." We couldn't agree more.