How I ended up being the first to review this book is beyond me. I would've guessed that many a learned architectural scholar would've long since sung the praises of this wonderful book. I, however, am just a layman with a lifelong passion for Gothic cathedral architecture, which started in the Washington National Cathedral and became educated, at least partiallly, in this book.
I consider Wilson's "The Gothic Cathedral", a 'must own' for anyone who has ever felt a yearning to know more about the soaring arches, brilliant glasswork, and impossibly high, vaulted ceilings of these magnificent medieval structures. This book, details the development of this unique form of architectural artistry; beginning with it's modest antecedents in Romanesque architecture and the groin-vaulted churches of Normandy and England and continuing through even the most elaborate and extravagant versions of late-Gothic throughout Europe. Mr. Wilson moves the reader, comfortably and comprehensibly through the chronological development of Gothic architecture, while neatly detailing the differences in coincidental development in several diverse geographic regions. Even I, with no formal architectural education, can now explain most of the finer points of Norman Romanesque, French High Gothic, and the Rayonnant styles of architecture, as well as explaining the odd metamorphisis of the English Decorated style into the very uniquely English, Perpendicular style.
The text is brilliantly cross-referenced with the illustrations, diagrams and photographs, which are both descriptive and beautiful, despite being all black and white. Finally, the glossary, index, and bibliography are complete and very helpful. If you think you MIGHT like this book... you will. Buy it.