An absorbing and informative history from a significant historian/biographer.



The engaging lives of two American visionaries.

In a vivid, deeply researched dual biography, Howard, a historian of architecture and design, pays homage to two men who exerted a huge influence on America’s homes, parks, and public spaces: landscape designer and environmentalist Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) and architect Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886). The men, who became collaborators, friends, and neighbors, could not have been more different. The ebullient Richardson, the son of a wealthy Southern mercantile family, was brilliant, handsome, and privileged. A grandson of naturalist Joseph Priestly, he went to Harvard, and when he decided to enter the relatively new profession of architecture, he enrolled at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he embarked on a productive apprenticeship. Olmsted, quieter and reserved, had been prevented from going to college because of an eye problem; after working at several jobs, he thought he might become a farmer. During a trip abroad in the early 1850s, however, he was inspired by Europe’s public parks to stand for election as superintendent of Central Park in Manhattan—a project that earned him accolades. The Civil War changed both men’s lives. Louisiana-born Richardson faced financial straits; Olmsted headed the Army’s Sanitary Commission and, after the war, worked for a mining company in California, where he obtained a commission to design what would become Berkeley, including the University of California campus. Howard details their many collaborative projects, including the Albany Capitol, the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, and many private estates. Olmsted designed Brooklyn’s Prospect Park as well as other parks across the country. Richardson was the acclaimed architect for Boston’s Brattle Square Church and Trinity Church as well as for his innovative open-plan homes. Howard chronicles their family lives and health problems as well as their creative work, illustrated with period photographs. As he did in Architecture's Odd Couple: Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson, the author brings the architectural world to life on the page.

An absorbing and informative history from a significant historian/biographer.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8021-5923-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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