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Landscape and Memory

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One of Time Magazine's Best Books of the Year

In Landscape and Memory Schama ranges over continents and centuries to reveal the psychic claims that human beings have made on nature. He tells of the Nazi cult of the primeval German forest; the play of Christian and pagan myth in Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers; and the duel between a monumental sculptor and a feminist gadfly on the slopes of Mount Rushmore. The result is a triumphant work of history, naturalism, mythology, and art.

"A work of great ambition and enormous intellectual scope...consistently provocative and revealing."--New York Times

"Extraordinary...a summary cannot convey the riches of this book. It will absorb, instruct, and fascinate."--New York Review of Books

672 pages, Paperback

First published April 4, 1995

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About the author

Simon Schama

82 books839 followers
Simon Schama was born in 1945. The son of a textile merchant with Lithuanian and Turkish grandparents, he spent his early years in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. When his parents moved to London he won a scholarship to Haberdashers’ Aske’s School where his two great loves were English and History. Forced to choose between the two he opted to read history at Christ’s College, Cambridge. Here he was taught by Sir John Plumb whose other students: Linda Colley, Roy Porter and John Brewer are now central to British historical thought. It was Plumb’s influence which instilled in him the importance of narrative and written style in order to gain an audience for history outside academia. One of the hallmarks of Schama’s work is his flair for description: ‘he gets arcane matters to walk, in fact dance, off the page’ according to fellow historian Peter Hennessy. However, his approach is contentious and invites criticism of subjectivity and populism from academic circles. Schama remained at Christ’s for 10 years after his degree, becoming a fellow and then director of Studies, before moving to Brasenose College Oxford. While at Oxford he wrote Patriots and Liberators: Revolution in the Netherlands 1780-1813 (1977), which won the Wolfson Literary Award, and Two Rothschilds and the Land of Israel (1979). At Oxford he met his wife, Ginny Papaioannou a geneticist from California.

Tired of the Oxford system (he once described his experience as being ‘like a gerbil on a treadmill’) and enticed by the freedom of US Academic life, he moved to America in 1980, becoming Professor of History at Harvard. Here he wrote The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age (1987), Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution (1989) and Dead Certainties (Unwarranted Speculations) (1991): an a unusual linking of the death of General Wolfe at Quebec in 1759 and the murder of a doctor, George Parkman, by a Harvard Professor in 1849. Citizens, which was written at lightening speed: 900 pages in only 18 months, won the 1990 NCR Book Award. However, Schama’s emphasis on the terror and violence of the revolution and his argument, that from its beginning it was a ‘sacrament of blood’, ensured it has never found a publisher in France. He is now professor in history and art history at Columbia where he has written Landscape and Memory (1996) which received the W H Smith Literary Award and Rembrandt’s Eyes (1999). The latter is a controversial reassessment of the artist which attempts to reinstate the notion of Rembrandt the genius, aiming to invoke the atmosphere as well as the historical context. In Schama’s view, as he tells David D’Arcy in Art Newspaper ‘There are some passages of sublime reinvention for which history has absolutely no answers…it seems to me pointless and trivial to pretend that it does.

Simon Schama has also worked for the BBC on a 16 part series: ‘A History of Britain’ and has been an art critic and cultural essayist for The New Yorker and Talk magazine. He lives in New York with his wife and their two children Chloe and Gabriel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 102 reviews
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,534 reviews1,787 followers
April 24, 2017
A big book, well illustrated and rich in anecdote (I particularly like the one about Whitebait in 18th century British politics). It is lovely to have a lengthy discussion of Pan Tadeusz, but the whole thing screams 'TV series' rather than book, rambling with discussions in passing on the sights and significances of the forest but lacking in great analysis, I find it doubtful I will ever read it again, except perhaps potential to a curious child . As a whole though it feels inconclusive, I understand that it originated as a lecture course which might explain that. As books go it is possibly a little too big and heavy to pass easily as light-hearted fun, although it is.
Profile Image for Lisa.
3,273 reviews415 followers
September 9, 2014
I read this a long time ago, and didn't find it easy to read, but oh! so very worthwhile when I finally made it to Europe and could see the places he was writing about. It really makes a difference when you are tramping through all those palaces when you understand the political purpose and symbolism behind the architecture and gardens.
I summarised each chapter as I read, but I'm not going to regurgitate that here. What I remember is all sorts of odd things - here's just one example: how the British nearly lost their war with France because they were a (fledgling) democracy: the barons cut down the royal forests for timber, and then when they needed trees with long straight trunks to make masts with, there weren't any left. The French had no such problem because their king ruled like a god and all his forests were intact.
Just writing this makes me want to read it again!
Profile Image for Lyn Elliott.
678 reviews175 followers
March 9, 2015
This is one of my all time favourite books. Schama's book is bursting with ideas about the meanings of different types of landscape in different places, and the ways these meanings are reflected in stories (legends, myths, folk stories etc) and the visual arts. It changed the way I see the world and enriched my life as a consequence.
No matter how cluttered our bookshelves get, this will always be in my collection.
Profile Image for Malcolm.
1,707 reviews404 followers
August 28, 2014
This is rich and dense, displaying a breadth of scholarship that is humbling. Bits of the book are outstanding, but my principal concern is that Schama does not seem to effectively distinguish representations of the landscape as things to be looked at (visual and plastic arts) from repesentations of the landscape made to be occupied (such as garden design). Whereas both are representations, the difficulty I find with not making this distinction clear is that we experience them differently - this is one of those times when Schama's fairly conservative mode of history has let him down. That said, it is a rich and sophisticated book.
Profile Image for Becca .
591 reviews36 followers
August 9, 2009
I've been ruminating away on this beautiful masterpiece of a book for a month now. Schama is a genius-- connecting with perfect clarity random bright historical moments into something sensical and lovely. Nazis and polish buffalo? Yes. Roman explorers and celtic heroes? Of course. Art, history, politics, and the small importance of every day life-- Schama illuminates the meaningfulness of it all so that it seems obvious and beautiful. This book is a complete education.
Profile Image for Erica.
102 reviews61 followers
March 16, 2007
Landscape and Memory is a long book. It is hard not to be impressed by the shear number of pages Simon Schama can put out. And his subject matter - the cultural perception of landscape and its use in national discourses - is one I enjoy. This is an incredibly broad-brush view of the subject, meandering through Lithuanian forests to Bernini's fountains and the gardens at Versaille, then on to Mount Rushmore, to name a small sampling of the locations he grazes. There are wonderful passages in this book. One of his biggest strengths is his incorporation of art criticism into historical narrative, so the 600+ pages are adorned with beautiful paintings and woodcuts. Perhaps an art historian would not be impressed, but I love it.

Like most of Schama's writing, Landscape and Memory is less about furthering a complex, nuanced argument than about taking a leisurely stroll through the things Simon Schama finds interesting. This can be fun if you have a lot of time and a lot of patience. (I read this monster in chunks on the train.) Otherwise, this is a fun book to skim, oogling the pretty pictures as you pass.
Profile Image for Christine.
6,549 reviews472 followers
September 2, 2010
About a year ago, I was watching Animal Plant or the National Geographic channel. I can't remember which one. Anyhow, there was this American, you know the kind that makes all Americans cringe. He was going in some cave filled with water and bat poop to look at snakes. He made this poor snake barf up its meal of bat to prove that snakes kill bats in the dark. He let the snake back in the murk, and a couple minutes got bite by a snake (if there is any justice, the same snake). The snake wasn't posionous (it was a type of constrictor), but its teeth were sharp and the guy was walking in water mixed with bat poop (why, he thought this was a good thing, I don't know). To be fair, it looked like the snake got him pretty good. So nature guy leaves the cave and starts the long hike back to the truck (cause the cave is in the middle of nowhere), complaining all the time about how he's making the hike alone and so it's hard because the bite hurts.

All the time, however, you can see the camera man's legs.

Schama's book isn't like that nature guy, who got to keep his leg. What the book does, in some ways, is explain why guys like that get television shows.

People are conflicted about landscapes see. Men went to conquer them, and women, according to Schama, went to have union with them.

I haven't read anything by Schama before. I have watched and also own on DVD, his History of Britain and The Power of Art (which is good, but not as good as Private Life of a Masterpiece). I like them, and Schama seems smart, but I can't take his facial expressions when he talks. It's like he has this combination of smelling something icky, mixed with disdain. It's werid. The voice is no problem, but his facial expression freak me out.

It's actually a pretty good book because there are no facial expressions. True in some parts, it seems as if Schama is writing to just to read himself, but in other parts he seems brillant.

Schama covers the politics around the history of the Robin Hood legend as well as the building of fountains and waterworks. He describes how people have viewed arcadia, rock, tree, and water. He focuses, it should be noted, on Western culture for the most part. France, Italy, England, and the USA make up most of the work.

I found the part about Mt. Rushmore to be intersting because I hadn't known that there was a movement to put Susan B. Anthony on the mountain. Schama describes that sequence with humor and empathy.
6 reviews1 follower
January 9, 2010
La mémoire est un art difficile. trop souvent elle n'est quélaboration visant à donner sens à un présent. Trop souvent elle refoule.
Le livre de Simon Schama est remarquable d'érudition et d'intelligence de l'histoire. A chaque page nous nous instruisons. Nous apprenons qu'un paysage vierge même de ruines peut cependant renfermer sa part de mémoire.
C'est que l'auteur a une connaissance inouie des représentations, de ces constructions mentales qui ont jalonné l'histoire de l'humanité. A la jointure de l'histoire, de l'histoire de l'art et des mentalités, ce livre nous initie plus que tout autre à ce qui peut se nommer culture
Profile Image for Maddy.
199 reviews128 followers
May 11, 2013
This book brought out a lot of things for me: issues of anthropocentrism, how do we get out of it? Can we get out of it? Can we talk about the experiences of creatures or things that are not human without anthropocentrising them? Can we anthropocentrisize them and be aware that we are doing so? To what degree is this self awareness acceptable?

Schama focused more on the memory than the landscape, which is fine, but his thesis was lost and not resolved. This was a book about men on land, not man and land. It was also odd that he would speak of America and not even mentioned the histories of blood and genocide that mark their landscape, but was willing to do so when speaking of Poland. I understand one cannot cover everything, but an aside, or at least an acknowledgment is necessary.

This book was not what I needed it to be, but that has more to do with me than Schama. And the strongest parts of this book always involved him.
Profile Image for Bookish.
613 reviews139 followers
June 9, 2017
This is a fantastic book. The doorstop size of it daunted me at first, but Simon Schama is such a brilliant, effervescent writer, I was caught up immediately. If you’re looking for an erudite page-turner endlessly conversant with art, architecture, history, and literature, not to mention forestry, horticulture, natural history, and more, Landscape and Memory is the doorstop for you! Schama looks at the way nature has shaped western culture: the way mountains, rivers, woods and forests have, in their beauty, geography, and symbolic power, permeated so much in European and American cultural realms. His prose is musical, his voice is witty, and he has a near omniscient grasp of his topic. Who knew a chapter focused on bison in a Lithuanian forest could be so fascinating! —Phil (https://www.bookish.com/articles/frid...)
Profile Image for Dinah Steveni.
125 reviews5 followers
August 14, 2010
I have the first edition... and as a plein air painter, I especially found Ch 9 Arcadia Redesigned informative. It's a go back to book in my library.
Author 3 books7 followers
March 3, 2021
This book is extremely rich in range, ideas, scholarship and sophistication. It travels through landscapes around the world, particularly in Europe, tracing their cultural legacies of centuries. Schama brings together history, art, politics, daily life in often unexpected connections.

So this book is a lot of things, but there’s a major absence too. This book focuses very much on western cultural thought, but it largely ignores non-western landscape-culture connections. For example, the American landscapes are not traced back to their pre-western past, the fascinating Australian landscape memory is ignored entirely.

But I may have missed something, because holy mother what an dauntingly enormous read this is. Many parts of the book are absolutely fabulous, but many more are drowned in elaborate erudition. It’s like an all you can eat Michelin restaurant, it’s just too much of a good thing. What remains for me is that many of these elaborations could have been traded for an inclusion of non-western landscape memories. So it’s a book of riches, but also of lost opportunity.

Profile Image for John Caviglia.
Author 1 book27 followers
December 8, 2013
A wonderfully compendious, leisurely, ultimately compelling ramble through art, literature and intellectual history, making the point that we see “Nature” through “Culture” (or, in Schama’s word, “Memory”). Having read and much admired Marjorie Hope Nicholson’s brilliant book, Mountain Gloom, Mountain Glory years ago, I was led to read Schama as a much larger but related take on the subject of culture seeing nature, and I was not disappointed. That is, though his general argument was no surprise, the tome was marvelous in its detailed examination of how the Western World (for he touches on the far East but lightly) regards the natural world, which he divides into the categories of wood, water and rock (woods, rivers and mountains, essentially). Of these, I found the first most fascinating, especially Schama’s reading of what wilderness meant to Tacitus, and how this, and his depiction of the Roman empire vs “Germania” as an attraction/repulsion, culture vs barbarism, and ultimately corrupt civilization vs primitive nobility evolved in Europe into such unlikely ‘bedfellows’ as Robin Hood, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Hitler. The section on rivers fascinates as well, as always with gripping, often improbable, detail—such as Sir Walter Ralegh rowing up the pestilential Orinoco river in search of El Dorado…. The third section, on mountains, was least surprising, as building on Marjorie Hope Nicholson, but still well worth it.

There are many wonderful illustrations, including color plates, for which I have a deep weakness. And Schama writes richly well, so that one is not surprised that he composes and narrates documentaries for BBC. Also I personally very much like the fact that, at crucial places, he roots his work in his own life—for example, he begins the part on forests with the fact that his ancestors were Jewish wood cutters in what is now Lithuania.

To those not willing to undertake an intellectual ramble of this length I recommend Marjorie Hope Nicholson’s Mountain Gloom, Mountain Glory as shorter and more “ahead of its time.” But those with the time to journey with Schama as commentator on man and landscape will find much to marvel at and enjoy in his teeming pages.

Profile Image for Steven.
524 reviews34 followers
August 24, 2007
A fully engrossing, but very long book. I like art, I like history, and I really like Simon Schama, so using the transitive property, I guess I really liked this book. I would caution potential readers, however, that it is not a book that can be read lightly. After finishing it, I have decided to treat myself to the softer ramblings of Chuck Klosterman.

By the way, I have shelved this in the american history shelf because there are some references to the United States and its landcape and history; however, those seeking an american history book will be very disappointed.
Profile Image for Joe.
7 reviews
February 3, 2008
Historian, Simon Schama's book on the psychology we invest upon landscape (and vice versa) is a profound book that makes my personal imagination seem withered and dry - it also encouraged me to keep reading. If you are interested in history, myth, art, culture, and psychology this book will be a permanent addition to your library. It is unlike any book I have ever read, and Schama is a master of prose. Filled with many fine color illustrations, art, maps, photographs.
Profile Image for Tom Wolfe.
9 reviews1 follower
September 20, 2012
Man creates myths around which political, religious and social activities cohere. Many of these deal with the relationship of a people to nature; for example the English and the sea, the Germans and the forest, Romany (gypsies) and the road. Schama uses art and artists as the media through which he explores these myths.
Profile Image for Wayne.
45 reviews14 followers
February 28, 2013
Lacks focus - Schama can and will use any bit of history or tangent to illustrate broad themes which could have been condensed into a long article. This is entertaining at times, like watching a talented college professor that's very stoned riff on history for hour after hour. But it's a 672 page book.
25 reviews
February 3, 2021
Nekonzistentní kunsthistorická veleexkurze obdobími a místy, která Schamu z různých důvodů zajímají. Namátkou bělověžské pralesy za Polsko-litevské unie, hercynský dubový les německého středověku, Temže v alžbětinských dobách, Mt. Rushmore antisemity Borgluma, egyptské obelisky v Římě a k tomu výklad mnoha krajinomaleb. Vynikající překlad Petra Pálenského.
3 reviews8 followers
July 19, 2007
This book is for avid consumers of a delicious, witty, educated read about topics you never thought you'd find interesting.
Profile Image for Nathan Albright.
4,417 reviews98 followers
April 30, 2021
This is a deeply interesting book. That does not mean that I have any particular agreement about the author's thoughts about the relationship of landscape and religion, because the author seems to view Christian as being related to the syncretic faiths that combine with heathen religious beliefs. The author has a lot to say about the complexity of how we view the environment and how it is that people can seek to use the same accounts of the relationship of people and their landscape both to, for example, celebrate cultured civilization as well as primitivism. The author finds himself arguing for both a consistently important place of terrain in the worldview of people throughout Western civilization while also showing the nuance of different landscapes and their role. Frequently the author finds that appeals to freedom and appeals to authority are similar in their nature, demonstrating an essential tension between our ideals of seeking freedom in terrain and our use of terrain as a means of establishing and demonstrating authority. Impressively, the author manages to deal with a complex and interesting subject without resorting to facile dualities, seeking to demonstrate complexity by pointing on the details of fascinating and not always well known stories about the origins of the view of landscape within Western cultures.

This book is a large one at almost 600 pages, divided into four parts and nine chapters. The book begins with an introduction and then gets into its main material after some twenty pages or so. The book then discusses the importance of wood--trees--to Western civilization (I), with chapters that discuss the vital importance of trees and the creatures and people within them in Lithuania (1), the look of the forests of Germania (2) and their role in the politics of difference between Latin culture and Germanic primitivism, which has remained important for millennia, as well as the question of the freedoms of the greenwood of England and France (3) and the verdant crosses of American forest history (4). The second part of the book is a discussion of water (II), specifically the question of rivers and their importance (5) and also the bloodstreams and currents and their role in history and science (6). After that the author discusses rock (III) with a look at mountains and high places (7) as well as the nature of rock and its role in imperialism (8). Finally, the author discusses the relationship between wood, water, and rock (IV), and the issue of the redesign of Arcadia (9), after which there are notes, a bibliographic guide, acknowledgements, and an index.

The only real criticism I have about this book is its heft. As a library reader, this book was by no means an easy one to get through in a timely fashion. The book is pretty dense in terms of its material even though what it talks about is interesting. It would have been a bit easier to deal with the material of this work had it been divided into three books, but that is more a question of how the material is collected than about the stellar quality of the material to begin with. If the chapters of this book are very long, they are divided into shorter essays that give the reader a sense of the impressionistic approach of the author. It is to the author's credit that this work is more about in depth stories of a wide variety of different cultures as well as symbolic landscapes that demonstrate in an inductive way the author's goal of showing how it is that the human mind seems to be drawn to creating meaning from one's surroundings. If the reader might think of different examples than the author chooses, this is a work that certainly offers a great deal of opportunities for further reading and research.
Profile Image for Stuart Aken.
Author 25 books277 followers
August 3, 2018
Art historian, philosopher, raconteur, academic, or proselyte? Simon Schama’s great tome carries elements of all these. One reviewer, quoted on the cover, adds ‘self-indulgent and perverse’, and I’ve no argument with those.
There are undoubted instances of the self-congratulatory, ‘I know a lot more than you’, and the academic show-off in this extraordinarily dense piece of erudition and scholarship.
I suppose I should declare how I came to read this book, which isn’t a volume I’d have normally acquired. Resident in the UK, I was seeking a translation of the Qur’an, for research purposes, and could find nothing suitable. Eventually, I discovered one on the Amazon USA site, so ordered it. The package arrived with a brick of a book (priced at £30.00) and about five times the physical size of the paperback I’d ordered. It was Simon Schama’s book. I explained, via email, what had happened. The generous folk over the pond suggested I keep the book they’d posted in error and then sent me the book I’d ordered.
There’s some irony that an order for a book on Islam should produce a volume written from a distinctively Jewish point of view, but that’s no matter to an agnostic, of course.
The anecdotal passages, accounts of family history, I found entertaining and engaging. But much of the scholarly text, replete with references to historical figures I frequently failed to recognise, was too unfamiliar to permit a sympathetic read. There were lengthy passages that would no doubt delight the specialist, but which bored me to sleep.
Too much information can be as off-putting as too little, and I was left with the impression of an author more concerned to demonstrate his immense range and depth of knowledge than to provide the casual reader with a means of accessing it.
The book deals largely with the way in which landscape informs our imaginations and therefore influences the creation of works of art. How locations can impact on both events and the artist’s response to them. It’s also a history lesson deeply influenced by the Hebrew view of the world.
A significantly weighty tome, both physically (I read part of it while in hospital and found my arms soon wearied from holding it up) and in terms of content, it was a work I could read only in portions. I learnt much but was also frequently left in the dark about those aspects of which I had no former knowledge.
Students of art history and Jewish society will find a great deal in these pages. For the general reader there’s a mix of the incomprehensible with informed education.
So, a work I enjoyed in part and endured in others. Frustrating and rewarding in turn.
Profile Image for Adam.
996 reviews196 followers
July 17, 2015
A work of startling ambition, executed in brief vignettes of anecdote, history, and art scholarship. I had had my eye on Landscape and Memory ever since I first saw it on the shelf at the Mudd, but never quite got around to lugging it home and spending the five weeks it ended up taking me to get through it. I was intrigued by the dark, dense, symbolic forest pictures I saw flipping through, and what I inferred to be its premise.

Having read it, I'm still not really sure what the thesis of this book is - Schama makes some noises about it in the intro and conclusion, but the body of the book is just wall-to-wall anecdotes. It's an impressively eclectic collection, bound together seamlessly with prose that is both authoritative and elegant. As dense and long as it is, L&M is fun to read, full of historical figures with foibles and mythologies.

Schama just dives in with stories pulled from the whole gamut of European art history (though the stories are invariably about white male artists and writers :/) and he throws you in without a lot of context. I occasionally felt a bit daft, like I should really know what Napoleon was up to in 1812 or who the Hannovers were. He covers a lot of nature tropes in some depth, and I felt like I was getting a serious education in art history, symbology, and environmental attitudes.

I took quite a few notes and really felt like I learned a lot, even about a subject I had some passing familiarity with already. I did occasionally wish he'd stray into more mythological and fantastical territory, but things generally stay pretty Christian. Christianity, of course, goes a loooong way, in European art history. And at times it still feels like he's just scratching the surface, or covering interesting and unusual examples of trends I wasn't entirely familiar with in the first place.

There's a lot of great landscape art in here, occasionally things I had a hard time finding good images of online even. Schama doesn't spend a ton of time trying to hand-hold the reader through examining paintings, which is probably for the best, but the comments he did make suggested some interpretative angles and just basic visual literacy that made them a bit more meaningful.
Profile Image for Leslie Wexler.
238 reviews20 followers
April 30, 2014
Landscape and Memory provides a way of looking at the culture-laden landscape from the forests of Lithuania to the sequoias of California, from the early and proto-Renaissance (and even further in Classical myth) into the American western frontier. The aim of Schama is to rediscover our approach to the earth through woods, water, and rock, and how layers of myth inform this relationship with the earth. Yet, it has a twist that many environmentalists may take issue with. This is a highly anthropocentric investigation turned celebration of human habitation in nature. He states, "Instead of being yet another explanation of what we have lost, it is an exploration of what we may yet find." As such, Schama's excavation project is not exactly into nature, but rather into the layers of ourselves and how our own veins tremble with myth and memory. The hope is that as we mine into our own cultural representations there may be a primary bedrock, laid down centuries or even millennia ago that might be brought to light and allowed to shine into an "enlightened" reader.

There is much to admire in this book, including Schama's wonderful prose style, but it must be read with an equally critical eye toward its ultimate environmental claims as it is not an earth-centred project. As Calvino once wrote about one of this "thin cities" you get to choose what you venerate: whether human ingenuity or the ever-replenishing power of a subterranean force of nature. Schama tries to walk the ever gentle middle path, but all too often the mechanics of his investigation and measurement of self and nature slip into the scene.
Profile Image for Bobby Thym.
61 reviews10 followers
March 24, 2013
Charlton Heston in his forced interview with Michael Moore reminded us all that Europe had a frontier, too. It's easy to forget this simple point. Schama looks at the art of the 18th and 19th centuries and shows how romanticism emerges from the art of this period. He argues that we are have been taught to look at nature in a certain way, and he then asks all of us where our feeling and thoughts about nature came from. I think the most ardent tree hugger or environmentalist has to return to the Romantic period.

Does this mean that we should not advocate for the earth, good stewardship, a more honest form of economics, sustainable energy, national and state parks, endangered species? No, but it is wise to know where one's thoughts, feelings and philosophies originated? A very good read.
Profile Image for Avis Black.
1,708 reviews28 followers
November 17, 2020
Schama approaches his topic from the historian's perspective, and the problem with this is that there's a great deal of history in this book but not much about landscapes. I would prefer a much more intense focus on artists, their individual works, and the artistic world and mindset than Schama provides. The book may be useful for those who have never taken any courses about the history of landscapes. Those who have will already be familiar with much of his subject matter.
Profile Image for Joe.
194 reviews19 followers
October 16, 2011
This is a long and rambling book, but that’s okay. He explores the notion of myth and culture relating to landscape, that in turn reoccurs through time in different forms. Divided into broad sections on wood, rock and water this is a very rich and varied account from the dark forests of Germany to Italian fountains. Packed with anecdote and stories of both the eccentric and sublime I would strongly recommend this book.

Profile Image for Laura.
8 reviews
May 16, 2011
This book is extremely well researched. All the information spans many years in history and a lot of distance geographically. However, there are so many anecdotes that I sometimes loose sight of the thesis. The last chapter, 500 pages in, helped pull everything together. The narrative is slightly personal, connecting current life experiences with historical events.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
10 reviews25 followers
February 1, 2013
I really wanted to like this book, instead it wore me down. Others have covered well what is great about it. I will say only that Schama seemed to have been missing an editor. It took over two years to read, in the end I finished it out of shear doggedness.

Great ideas buried inside alot of extra writing.
Profile Image for Adrian.
7 reviews
July 13, 2009
didn't actually read it cover to cover. used passages for research. the passages that supported my thesis.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 102 reviews

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