Unlike many people, I actually read the coffee-table books I have in my home. My wife and I are fans of touring historic homes and somewhere along theUnlike many people, I actually read the coffee-table books I have in my home. My wife and I are fans of touring historic homes and somewhere along the way we picked this one up, mostly for the pictures contained within.
The book includes a short cursory introduction to why we (at least some of us) appreciate historic homes, architecture, and so forth as well as a bit about the importance of preservation. The bulk of the book is divided into a pictorial smorgasbord of beautiful photographs of a representation of historically important or architecturally important homes in the United States.
Unfortunately, the photos are the only thing worthwhile about the book. The choice of homes is heavily biased in favor of the East Coast. There is a smattering of homes from the South and Midwest and California but nothing at all between Chicago and California. The text that accompanies each photograph is virtually worthless and rarely adds any valuable information. The phrase "listed in the National Register of Historic Places" is part of almost every description and I got tired of seeing it. When an attempt was made to describe any details of the house, it was so generic as to be of no value. It's as if the publishers were content with publishing a picture book and never expected people like me to actually read the text.
So... 5 stars for the photos and 1 star for the text...averages out to 3 stars for the book. A perfect coffee table book to use, for example, in a model home where nobody will have a chance to read it....more
I don't pretend to have any great knowledge of art. I fall into that category of, "I know what I like when I see it" crowd. Having seen a few examplesI don't pretend to have any great knowledge of art. I fall into that category of, "I know what I like when I see it" crowd. Having seen a few examples of Dali's work at various museums around the world, I tend to enjoy its boldness, vivid colors, and usually clear, almost picture-like clarity of images. But until reading this book (not just look at the pictures) I didn't realize just how much lay behind the limp watches, phallic symbols, and other famous images of his work.
I still can't decide if Dali was brilliant, insane, or simply a huge egomaniac with a brush, but it really doesn't matter. He had a huge impact on the art world of the 20th century and I thought this book, while not intended to be a complete biography of the man, served adequately to give a good taste of him and even provided some insight into his character. And if you just want to look at the artwork, that is beautifully presented here....more
Every once in a while I will grab one of the coffee-table books I've somehow managed to accidentally collect over the years...and actually read it. IEvery once in a while I will grab one of the coffee-table books I've somehow managed to accidentally collect over the years...and actually read it. I received this one as a gift when I was leaving an active duty assignment and moving on to the next. Since it happened to be in the year 2000, somebody must have thought this would be an appropriate gift. Evidently they didn't notice the subtitle, "For Young People" but no matter. Sometimes that is for the best.
The book is divided into major sections, each corresponding to an era of the 20th century such as 1900-1913, 'Across the Threshold' and 1930-1939, 'Empty Pockets' all the way to 1993-1999, 'OurFuture.com'. Each section is introduced with an essay by an award winning author of children's or YA books. These served well to summarize the particular era. Of course the majority of the book is the pictures from the extraordinary archives of Life magazine. Most of the famous (or infamous) photographs I have ever seen before are included and many that I had not. Each is accompanied by several sentences of description which serves further to summarize the event.
Of course, in any book like this there will be disagreements on how various events are portrayed and what is important enough to be included and what is left out. I suspect some will be frustrated at the political slant of the choices here but overall I thought they did a good job of representing the century. At least from an American perspective. While events such as Apartheid, Polish solidarity, the Russian Revolution, etc. are included, I would wager that roughly 80-90 percent of the events concern the US or the US perspective on a world event.
I suppose most people buy “coffee-table books” simply to look good as props around the house. They may get paged through for the picture value too, buI suppose most people buy “coffee-table books” simply to look good as props around the house. They may get paged through for the picture value too, but how many times are they actually read?
I have to say I didn’t expect too much from this book. I feel I am pretty well versed in the history of the American West so what could a coffee-table book offer? Happily, the answer is: quite a lot. No, there are no newly found facts or insights never before presented, but as a nice summary of the forces that interacted and impacted the region over time, you could do far worse.
This book covers far more than the westward wagon trains and the plight of the Native Americans. Quoting from the book’s conclusion, “From Spanish conquistadores to gold-rush prospectors, from French coureurs de bois to American mountain men, from Presbyterian missionaries to Mormon pilgrims, from wagon-train sojourners to railroad barons, from free-spirited cowboys to steadfast sodbusters, from cattle-rustling women to wheat-farming ex-slaves, from Native American warriors to soldiers of the US Army, all kinds of people participated in the invention of the American West. Each blazed a different trail, making a unique contribution to that unique time and place. Together, they left a legacy of brash optimism and fierce individualism that still defines the consciousness of the United States.”
The pictures that accompany the text are of high quality and almost exclusively historical photographs, paintings and maps. Their richness brings the entire book to life. In addition, there are many quotes attributed to the participants, both from famous leaders and pathfinders as well as from the more common people who experienced life from the ground up. For anybody seeking a well written and informative summary of this subject, I highly recommend this book. ...more
For years now I've owned this "coffee table" book, "Arizona Landmarks" by James E. Cook. By "coffee table" book, I mean those large oversized books thFor years now I've owned this "coffee table" book, "Arizona Landmarks" by James E. Cook. By "coffee table" book, I mean those large oversized books that are mostly filled with beautiful pictures and perfect for thumbing through when you visit a friend's house. And they usually look good sitting there on the table. It is my guess that these are usually decorative books only and very few get read or even looked through. And that's a shame. "Arizona Landmarks" is just such a book and, in fact, when I looked at the inside of the front cover I noticed I had annotated it when we first purchased the book. It was during a trip to Arizona in June 1990. In 19 years I had not read that book and truth be told, we have quite a few more like them on the shelf although we generally don't buy them anymore.
This book is absolutely gorgeous. It was produced by the "Arizona Highways" magazine people and uses photos from their long history as well as current photos from all sources. The contrast is uniquely cool. There is also a fair amount of text in here as well, serving to tell some of the history of the various regions of the state as well as the geographic history of the land itself. The book is divided into several major sections including "deserts", "canyons", "mountains", and "plateaus." I have traveled in Arizona on quite a few occassions, especially when I was a boy. I remember seeing such natural beauty as the Painted Desert, Salt River Canyon, Petrified Forest, and of course the Grand Canyon. But most of my memories were of long ago and to tell the truth, were mostly views from the highway. This book, especially the pictures within that defy the written word serve only to increase my desire to return to Arizona. That's what a good "coffee table" book should do....more