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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.


A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

Did you like this book?