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Roadside Americana Hardcover – 30 Jul 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Hardcover, 30 Jul 2004
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Publications International (30 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1412706130
  • ISBN-13: 978-1412706131
  • Product Dimensions: 30.4 x 30.7 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 737,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Robin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 Nov. 2008
Format: Hardcover
You can probably fill a bookcase or two with books like this. They pop-up in tourist souvenir shops everywhere, aimed at a general readership and most of them are easily forgotten. I bought this one mainly because of the large size though the photo quality, overall, is average and the page design is bland and predictable.

However I think there are good points: the coverage is rather comprehensive, from the Hollywood sign, Randy's Donuts in Inglewood, Los Angeles, Haines Shoe House, York, Pennsylvania to the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. These are all sort of American national treasures and there are plenty more in the book, as large photos, too. Americana in the title helps define what should be included though that also raises the question: just how tacky and temporary can a structure be before it's not worth including, fortunately not too many here fall into that category.

If you can find it cheap enough this isn't a bad buy (at the original price I would have definitely passed) but if you like this sort of roadside exuberance check out Jim Heimann's lovely California Crazy (ISBN 0811830187) David Graham has done four roadside books and the leader of the pack John Margolies has several books. Ones I've enjoyed are: Fun along the highway and The end of the road.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9e0d4fa8) out of 5 stars 19 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9db68d08) out of 5 stars Drive-by exubrance 18 Nov. 2008
By Robin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
You can probably fill a bookcase or two with books like this. They pop-up in tourist souvenir shops everywhere, aimed at a general readership and most of them are easily forgotten. I bought this one mainly because of the large size though as another reviewer has rightly said the photo quality, overall, is average and I can add to this by saying the page design is bland and predictable.

However I think there are good points, the coverage is rather comprehensive, from the Hollywood sign, Randy's Donuts in Inglewood, Los Angeles, Haines Shoe House, York, Pennsylvania to the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. These are all sort of national treasures and there are plenty more in the book, as large photos, too. Americana in the title helps define what should be included though that also raises the question: just how tacky and temporary can a structure be before it's not worth including, fortunately not too many here fall into that category.

If you can find it cheap enough this isn't a bad buy (at the original price I would have definitely passed) but if you like this sort of roadside exuberance check out Jim Heimann's lovely California Crazy and Beyond: Roadside Vernacular Architecture, David Graham has done four roadside books and the leader of the pack John Margolies has several books. Ones I've enjoyed are: Fun Along the Road: American Tourist Attractions - Another Amazing Album from America's Number One Roadside Observer and The End of the Road: Vanishing Highway Architecture in America in several editions but his greatest book is John Margolies: Roadside America, a stunning coffee-table book with four hundred big page photos.

***SEE SOME INSIDE PAGES by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9db6a30c) out of 5 stars Great concept brought down by inconsistent image quality 24 Feb. 2006
By J. Lizzi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Roadside Americana" consists of just under 200 images that record a slice of American history related to automobile travel, and almost anyone with experience in long-distance road trips will be familiar with a few of the roadside attractions depicted. From a curiosity standpoint, the subjects are fun and intriguing, and likely to evoke a chuckle or two; however, considering photographic quality, the range is all over the board: first-rate professional to downright amateurish. It's the latter characterization that brought about a bit of disappointment.

The best examples I've seen of Americana imagery of this type come from a photographer named John Margolies, who possesses the professionalism and diligence to capture countless roadside oddities using the best angle and optimum light. He is serious about the latter criterion, as one of his trademarks is to insist on having a blue sky as a background for his subject matter. Unfortunately, no Margolies photos appear in this book (he's published many of his own, and Smithsonian magazine featured him back in November 1988).

What you get are nearly 200 images, almost all color, ranging in size from 3"x4" to nearly a whole page. I'd say about 60 percent of them are of excellent artistic quality: good color, lighting and exposure. John Elk III, Jack Olson Photography and Nick Wheeler Photography are a few examples of those that contributed noteworthy ones. Much of the remaining 40 percent are marred by photographic let-downs, such as poor framing, odd perspectives, unfortunate lighting (e.g., pesky shadows or a washed-out sky) and even sloppy focusing. Each photo has an accompanying caption which gives a history of the object in a few sentences. These and the descriptive text at the beginning of each chapter are well written by Eric Peterson, and I found them quite enjoyable.

The subject matter is grouped into six chapters: landmarks, statue gardens, architecture, "world's largest," gas/food/lodging (my favorite) and "unclassifiable." That makes sense. On the downside, the photographic credits appear at the very beginning of the book, alphabetically by photographer; so, in order to find credits for a given image one must scan the whole list to locate a page number. This becomes really annoying for those pages where there are two or more images.

Overall, as an Americana photo log, most will enjoy this book. As a presentation of photographic artistry, I'm afraid the shortcomings are a bit too frequent.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dc7a1b0) out of 5 stars Giant roadside tourist attractions for the road trip 1 Dec. 2009
By microjoe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Nice coffee table book to thumb through, although I confess to reading the whole thing cover to cover. I really enjoyed looking at the weird stuff each town comes up with. I mean most of us have see the giant lumber jack, but giant corn? When I was a kid, my dad refused to stop and look at these, as he thought they were too corny, but I still like them. The book is 12 by 12 in size, close to 200 photos spread over 128 pages. The book explains the history of the roadside attraction, especially anything that has been built to giant size. The picnic basket on the cover is an office building by the way. It is broken into easy to find categories. The photos were satisfactory, and the text was informative. I have a couple of books on this subject, and I think this is my favorite.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9db6a624) out of 5 stars Great Road Trip Book! 29 Dec. 2010
By Chris Bongardt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book that inspires you to want to go on a road trip in our country. There is so much fun and whimsical stuff to see. I have seen about 7 places in the book and I am taping in pictures of my trip there in this book as I go along. It is a great big colorful book that kids and adults will both enjoy.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9db6a864) out of 5 stars Museum of the weird! 25 July 2013
By David J. Griffis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't think I will ever be able to see all of these in person so this book is wonderful! Cool roadside tributes to businesses, restaurants and just plain bizarre! Very cool!
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