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Frank's Great War
Frank's Great War
by Robert Best
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.95

5.0 out of 5 stars An Edwardian boyhood, 7 April 2015
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This review is from: Frank's Great War (Paperback)
Not just a war history of two young officers but an account of their lives leading up to the First World War war. A full and fascinating introduction to what mattered most during the Edwardian era to two privileged but very normal schoolboys. Vivid, detailed and humorous. Highly recommended.


How Much Does your Building Weigh, Mr Foster? [DVD] [2010]
How Much Does your Building Weigh, Mr Foster? [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Norberto Lopez
Offered by Dogwoof Ltd.
Price: £3.99

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Advertisement masquerading as an objective study, 5 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The film "How much does your building weigh, Mr Foster" has been greeted warmly by architecture critics writing in the lay and architectural press. Its packaging quotes Esquire magazine ("an engaging portrait of a true genius"), the Observer ("hugely enjoyable"), Building magazine ("a poignant and human portrayal"), and the Times of London ("5 stars"). What none of these not usually unobservant publications seems to have noticed, however, is that this film, written and breathlessly narrated by the same writer who wrote the hagiographic biography "Norman Foster: a life in architecture", was also produced in association with an organisation called "Arts Commissioners". "Arts Commissioners" sounds like an authoritative, semi-official arts quango. It is in fact a consultancy firm that promotes its clients by putting their work in what are seen as the most advantageous public arenas. It is owned by Thomas Manss & Co, a German-English partnership with Foster + Partners as one of its 19 architectural clients. In short, this is a promotional film that masquerades as a piece of objective film-making. It is nothing of the sort, as the soundtrack clearly reveals. There's nothing wrong with promotional films - but they ought to be labelled as such, and the innocent viewer ought therefore to take note and be wary.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 2, 2012 9:29 PM BST


Masterpieces: Library Architecture + Design
Masterpieces: Library Architecture + Design
by Manuela Roth
Edition: Hardcover

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A really bad book, 13 May 2011
This book - one of a series of similar works from Braun - is an example of what's wrong with architectural publishing. The book presents pictures of a large number of new buildings (and a few projects), but gives no idea of how the buildings work. We see only what the public see, as if all that matters is a building's appearance. In fact, libraries, especially large libraries, include a mass of other unseen operations (book storage, book delivery systems, air handling, issues of acoustics, provision for librarians) that are at least as important as the public spaces. Without this information (and the book relies on brief and inadequate captions), the reader can form no idea of the buildings' real merits. In addition, there's no obvious logic behind the book's organisation. Taken together, it gives the impression that the author, or editor, has never seen any of the buildings referred to, is unequipped to write about them, and cannot collate them in a way that makes any sense.


Architecture's Evil Empire?: The Triumph and Tragedy of Global Modernism
Architecture's Evil Empire?: The Triumph and Tragedy of Global Modernism
by Miles Glendinning
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.95

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent review of architectural hubris, 28 Feb. 2011
This is a good, fast read - unusual in the field of architectural studies - in which the author reviews some of the most abnormal buildings produced in the last 30 years, and offers a Thucydidean pre-history to try and account for them. That's not an easy call: it requires Glendinning to explain buildings that are the product of what he calls architecture's "semi-detached" relationship with power, and the raising of important and too-often unasked questions about who's actually responsible for buildings: the architect or the client?

Glendinning's view is that a culture of communalism that gave architecture a valuable coherence even in its most despised periods - Victoriana and 20th-century Modern - has finally broken down, leaving the landscape wrecked by vulgar, unnecessarily expensive, attention-seeking would-be icons. His tone is critical, sometimes bordering on outrage: at the head of his list of villains are, of course, Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid, and he blames Rem Koolhaas's writings for the climate in which their works have thrived.

Out of this chaos he attempts to find some consolation, however, and for that, he ends up praising the civic planning of modern Hong Kong and Shanghai.

This is an excellent essay - selective, inevitably, in imitating the very focus on high-status monuments that he rightly blames the architectural media for - but as a structured explanation of numerous factors that had not previously been brought together, it's well worth reading.


Outliers: The Story of Success
Outliers: The Story of Success
by Malcolm Gladwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

7 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish, 15 Feb. 2010
An example of painting targets round arrows, Gladwell's popular success shows nothing more than how desperate some readers are (a) that chance should be made to appear predictable; and (b) that it can be shown to work in their favour. Gladwell acts here like a medieval apothecary, selling the elixir of life to the easily duped.


Running for the Hills: A Family Story
Running for the Hills: A Family Story
by Horatio Clare
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A search for inner harmony, 30 Jun. 2007
Horatio Clare and his younger brother suffered the separation and divorce of two strong-willed parents who could not reconcile their desire for different lifestyles: one urban, the other rural. In "Running for the Hills", Clare examines what drove his mother to insist on a ten-year escape to a remote Welsh hill farm and what that meant for his father, his brother and himself - to what extent were they loved or rejected?; to what extent was lifestyle a more powerful force than love? "Running for the Hills" is Clare's attempt to reconcile and reconnect, through his writing, two parents who he eventually concludes loved each other but were not in love. It is, in that sense, a melancholy but wonderful book, revealing the humanity, pain and courage of a child hurt by the inexplicable break-up of the people he cares about most. A very rewarding read.


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