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Joel Sternfeld: Sweet Earth - Experimental Utopias in America Hardcover – 31 Jul 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Steidl (31 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3865211240
  • ISBN-13: 978-3865211248
  • Product Dimensions: 34.3 x 2 x 28.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,224,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

When Thomas More wrote "Utopia" in 1516, he gave a name to a very old, perhaps universal, tradition of thinking that included "The Epic of Gilgamesh", Plato's "Republic" and "The Old Testament" - and he started an argument. Francis Bacon ("Utopia through Science") and Jean Jacques Rousseau ("Utopia through Nature") soon joined the debate, but it was the harsh changes in daily life engendered by the factory systems of the early Industrial Revolution that brought an urgency to the discussion, as seen in the writings of David Owens, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. While the early social theorists were largely European, it was in the fluid environment of America that true Utopian communities were built and Utopian experimentation flourished. In the years between 1810 and 1850, hundreds of secular and religious societies bravely tried to build a "perfect" life for their members. In the twentieth century experimentation began again, reaching a fever pitch in the turbulent days of the Vietnam War. Some of the late 1960s communes still survive and continue to flourish. The 1990s and the early years of the new millennium have become yet another hotbed of social experimentation.

The Co-Housing movement is sweeping America with at least 70 communities fully completed and occupied and numerous others planned. At the same time, the rapid global expansion of sustainable communities known as Ecovillages has been widely adopted in America. In "Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America" Joel Sternfeld has selected sixty representative historic or present American utopias. A photograph of each is accompanied by a brief text that summarizes the most salient aspects of the history or organization of the community. Neither a conventional history nor a conventional book of photography, "Sweet Earth" brings together what might otherwise seem disparate, individualized social phenomena and makes visible the community of communities. As laissez-faire market forces sweep the globe and the earth's future seems endangered, the dream of living in concert with nature and with one another is increasingly essential.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Feb. 2008
Format: Hardcover
With text and one photo on each spread 'Sweet Earth' follows in the same format as Sternfeld's previous fascinating book 'On This Site' rather than the straight photobook style of 'American Prospects' or 'Stranger Passing'. The Editorial Review, above, will give you a good idea about the contents.

The photos are a rich selection of the various experimental communities across America and nearly all of the sixty shots are exteriors. They give you an idea of how varied some of these places are, from Dome Village in Los Angeles (domes predictably) Oneida Community Mansion, New York to the eleven homes of Surreal Estates in Sacramento. The text facing each photo tells of the background and current status of each place.

The book is the usual excellent production from Steidl, Germany. Good paper, printing in 175dpi with simple, clean typography and design. I thought it was a pity though that only one photo was devoted to each place. Sternfeld must have taken plenty and it would have given more coherence to the book's purpose to give as full a picture as possible of these intriguing Utopias.

***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Heaven on Earth 24 Feb. 2008
By Robin Benson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
With text and one photo on each spread 'Sweet Earth' follows in the same format as Sternfeld's previous fascinating book On This Site rather than the straight photobook style of 'American Prospects' or 'Stranger Passing'. The Editorial Reviews, above, will give you a good idea about the contents.

The photos are a rich selection of the various experimental communities across the Nation and nearly all of the sixty shots are exteriors. They give you an idea of how varied some of these places are, from Dome Village in Los Angeles (domes predictably) Oneida Community Mansion, New York to the eleven homes of Surreal Estates in Sacramento. The text facing each photo tells of the background and current status of each place.

The book is the usual excellent production from Steidl, Germany. Good paper, printing in 175dpi with simple, clean typography and design. I thought it was a pity though that only one photo was devoted to each place. Sternfeld must have taken plenty and it would have given more coherence to the book's purpose to give as full a picture as possible of these intriguing Utopias.

***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Phenomenal! 9 April 2008
By K. Knight - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Fascinating stories of individual and group quests for happiness and order. The accounts of American utopian experiments are detailed, poignant, and non-judgmental, leaving the reader to draw his/her own conclusion about precisely what went wrong. Many lessons to learn from this gorgeous collection by Joel Sternfeld.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A fine addition to any collection. 12 July 2008
By zig - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A large, formidable book of beautiful quality chock full of Sternfeld's serene, sensitive and stunningly clear photographs. Composed of inspirational stories and portraits of people living concientious lives built upon dreams, hardwork and hope for something more rewarding than cubicle work & a condo in a gated community. This is a well-rounded and interesting account of efforts in a-typical existences.
0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
so and so 4 Jun. 2011
By alike - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
the book is nice but the quality is not so good.
it was "like new" but it isn't (borders at the angles are not in good conditions).
lucky me the inside is ok!
I guess it happens.
1 of 13 people found the following review helpful
nice new book 7 Jan. 2007
By Leclercq - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This a great photography book. The prints are very nice.

If you like Joel Sternfeld, you will love this book.
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