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Washington's Monument: And the Fascinating History of the Obelisk
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Washington's Monument: And the Fascinating History of the Obelisk

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  124 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Conceived soon after the American Revolution ended, the great monument to George Washington was not finally completed until almost a century later; the great obelisk was finished in 1884, and remains the tallest stone structure in the world at 555 feet. The story behind its construction is a largely untold and intriguing piece of American history, which acclaimed historian ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 2nd 2016 by Bloomsbury USA
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Cindy
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
As the title says, a fascinating history of obelisks...and where they are today. Perhaps the most interesting passages in the book were those pertaining to moving obelisks. Recommended for civil engineering nerds!
Jeff
Expecting a history of a specific obelisk, I found this short book packed with stories of several others as well, traced to their ancient Egyptian origins and followed through their relocations in Europe and America. Also included was an abundance of trivial facts in the footnotes (what did the death of John Quincy Adams have to do with the Washington Monument!?), which I must admit I absolutely loved. While the naval, mechanical, and architectural terms were sometimes out of my grasp, this was ...more
Erin
Apr 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
As others have mentioned, about half of this book is about the Washington Monument, and the other half is dedicated to obelisks in general and a handful in particular. There's certainly a lot of information about these subjects to be learned from the book, and it's a pretty quick read once you get into it. The author often switches between timelines with the chapters, and I would get caught up in the attempt to build a monument and then be thrown back to ancient Egypt to learn about the politics ...more
Debbie Jacob
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Washington's Monument...turned out to be a surprisingly good read undoubtedly because the author manages to create excitement and anticipation while weaving the history of the obelisk between the story of how difficult it was to raise funds and get this monument built. Readers learn the simple look of the form is deceiving, and realize just how much other country's obelisks have been coveted by rival countries. Readers who like art, architecture, engineering, history and American history will ap ...more
Phil
Aug 04, 2016 rated it liked it
This book, afterall is subtitled 'and the facinating history of the obelisk'. It is, in fact, @ easily over 50%, the telling of the history and plundering by the West of these famous anciet monuments. Interesting enough. Yet, I was left feeling that so much of the Wash Mon history, interspersed throughout, was left untold.

Oddly, the auther begins with the damage resulting from the earthquake of 2011 but never loops the story back around to it at the end (which seems a bit rushed).
Steve Gross
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Although a slim book, only about a third is devoted to Washington's Monument. Also, too many footnotes.
Dylann
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great book. I love anything related to George Washington, which is why I picked up this book. However, this book rarely mentioned him, which is still great. I remember growing up knowing about the monument, but not really knowing anything about it. This book solved that problem for me without making it boring.

Half of the book focuses on the history of all obelisks (as the title would suggest), but makes it so interesting. While reading about it, I forgot that I was reading about the Washington m
...more
Rod Brown
Nov 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-real-books
An enjoyable if slight history that I checked out of the library mostly because I thought it was clever that the book's tall, narrow shape echoed its subject matter. The details behind the building of the Washington Monument were fun though the author had to delve pretty deep into the trivial to fill out those sections of the book. The chapters about the history of Egyptian obelisks and their relocation to European and American cities actually were fascinating as the subtitle claims, but I was d ...more
A Jeffrey
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
John Steele Gordon's writing skills make what could have been a boring book quite fascinating. The story of the Washington Monument is almost secondary to the fascinating history of the obelisk. How the Egyptians erected these 5000 years ago is astounding. If you are an engineering nerd, you will lap this up. I, personally, could care less about how things are built. But with that said, I enjoyed the hell out of it. A related story about the Rosetta Stone and cracking the code of hieroglyphics i ...more
Enid
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fun quick read about obelisks in general. The engineering feats of moving the obelisks was fascinating to read about. I also enjoyed reading about the politics behind many of these monuments. And there are tons of fun facts in this quirky little book- for instance, I learned that the Washington Monument is not truly an obelisk as it is not made from a single piece of stone. I think this was a good book to read in the physical form, as there are lots of great photos and diagrams which would not ...more
Mary
Mar 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Washington DC is a place I have always wanted to visit to see things like the Washington monument. This book provides a history of the struggle to find funding for the monument and gives readers an insiders's perspective on the structure itself.

Before I read this book, I had no real idea of just how tall the Washington Monument is or the maintainable involved in keeping the landmark in God shape.

Interestingly, the book is also a bit of a history of obelisks. And it tells the stories providing
...more
Mark
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Overall I would give this book 3.5 stars. Half of the book is dedicated to the history of the Washington Monument from dates, delays and the process to completion. The other half of this book is dedicated to the history of the Obelisk. I would say this history is interesting and informative rather than fascinating as the title of the book claims. I'm more knowledgable for reading this book. It's a fairly quick read and has excellent pictures.
Cindy
Sep 10, 2016 rated it liked it
I checked this book out from my local library. I was only interested in the sections about Washington's monument but the information about engineering and ancient cultures was interesting, too. It's a wonder that Washington's monument even exists because so many different factions had opposing viewpoints. If it had been me, I would have just said, "the hell with it," and walked away. I don't have the patience to suffer fools!
Vince Ciaramella
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I quite enjoyed this book. It's really just the story of Obelisks in major cities (New York, DC, London, Paris). What I really liked about this book was the Victorian technology and problem solving that went into transporting these huge stones across the sea to their new homes. There is no linear story here but one will walk away with a new appreciation for these monuments, especially the Washington Monument. It's a short read as well that gets right to the point which I appreciate.
Tony Taylor
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable read... includes a great snapshot of American history as well as the history of all the world's great obelisks, especially those that were first built by the Egyptians many centuries ago. Also full of lots of little known facts about the Washinton Monument as well as other well known monuments in America and Europe. An easy, fun book to read... I highly recommend it!
Thom
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fun little book that quite satisfied the curiosity. It's not just the Washington Monument, but obelisks in general. I've never really understood the fascination and I still don't share the fascination with anyone, but my curiosity is satiated by this little book, chock full of footnote stories that reveal the breadth of Gordon's scholarship.
Sharon
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
extraordinary! wow-how they ever got it done boggles the mind-pretty good(for non-fiction!)
no errors. (altho author couldn't seem to decide which Mohammad/Muhammad he really wanted to use (was a little annoying)
Michele
Apr 12, 2016 rated it liked it
While the book has interesting stuff in in, only about 25% of it is about the Washington Monument. The rest is about other obelisks that were taken from Egypt and erected in other countries. There is also a short history about obelisks in general.
Robert
Feb 02, 2017 rated it liked it
certainly well researched and a very quick read. I found the back and forth between the Washington monument and the ancient history to be though. that said, a very interesting story about one of the must famous monuments.
Deb Stransky
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book on the building of Washington's Monument and the other obelisks around the world. Several obelisks were transferred whole from Egypt to other countries around the world including Cleopatra's Eye to NYC. Extremely fascinating!!!
Ilya Plotkin
Aug 21, 2016 rated it liked it
It was okay.
Edward
Jun 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Quick interesting read about the proposal and building of the Washington Monument, as well as the history of Egyptian Obelisks. Good read.
Greg
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: architecture
If you liked Brunelleschi's Dome and other similar books this one is for you. A quick read but nicely alternates between the Washington Monument and the history of obelisks in general.
Mary Kovarik
May 16, 2016 rated it liked it
The story is a little thin because it is more about obelisks than it is about the Washington Monument alone. I enjoyed reading it. It passes the time.
Dorothy
jUST FASCINATING!
Tammy
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great little book by a renowned historian! I love the photographs!
Fiona
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Provides a concise history of the Washington Monument, but nothing new or surprising. The history of obelisks is quite fascinating.
Bill
rated it liked it
Mar 27, 2016
Craig
rated it liked it
Feb 12, 2016
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