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4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to say... but very good!, 27 Jun 2013
By 
I. Darren (Fi) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934 (Hardcover)
At the risk of possibly upsetting en masse the residents of Chicago, the north American city is perhaps not the first place you think of when you think skyscraper.

Yet Chicago has many of the most distinctive skyscrapers in the world that popped up during a key period of reconstruction after the Great Fire of 1871 until the brakes were applied in the 1930s with the Great Depression. Some buildings may seem familiar, whether through their name or possibly just by their visual appearance. During this building boom the latest technologies were used to go higher and higher, moving away from iron and stone buildings to massive steel and glass palaces up in the clouds. This book takes a detailed look at this exciting, changing time.

This is a heavy, academic-focussed book which might be less appealing to the casual reader if only by virtue of its text-heavy nature. There are illustrations but they generally act as second fiddle to the voluminous text instead of being the other way round as in more "coffee table"-style books. This is no criticism but you need to manage your expectations accordingly. After a very detailed introduction the book is split into nine key chapters, all examining a milestone or era in Chicago skyscraper history and development.

The depth of the subject is amazing, particularly to someone who is neither an architect or a resident of Chicago. For a general reader there is possibly too much information, if such a complaint can be levied, but it is better to have too much than too little. As befitting an academically-orientated book there is a mass of bibliographic and general notes. This advance review copy did not feature the promised index but one can presume that if it follows the bibliography and notes lists then it will be very, very detailed indeed.

A book of this kind is a very hard thing to review and an even harder thing to recommend. Naturally if you have an academic need for this kind of book then it is certainly something worthy of closer consideration. For a general read or a casual local history book it is probably a little too in-depth and a little over-priced but that is no criticism of the book's contents itself and merely a reflection of reality and the average reader's pocketbook. It could be worth keeping an eye on some of the usual online booksellers as often very good deals can be had and then you might want to snap up something out of the ordinary that WILL educate, inform and possibly amaze you.
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Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934
Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934 by Thomas Leslie (Hardcover - 11 July 2013)
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