Fallen Glory: The Lives and Deaths of History's Greatest Buildings

Picador. Mar. 2017. 640p. illus. maps. notes. ISBN 9781250118295. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781250118301. ARCH
Crawford's (Aerofilms: A History of Britain from Above) latest title is not the first to offer building necrologies: The AIA Guide to New York City has a chapter devoted to demolished structures. Books with the word "lost" in their titles often document the destroyed architectural heritage of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Yet with over 2,000 endnotes covering seven millennia, this may be the first to weave an epic tale of how buildings are devastated by war, because of failed social experiments, or as a result of natural disaster. Five parts, each with a regrettably contrived title ("You Say Utopia, I Say Dystopia"), contain 20 chapters tracing iconic architecture, from the Tower of Babel to the World Trade Center, with an epilog about recent ruins in Palmyra, Syria. Crawford shows particular sensitivity to highly charged subjects, such as Israel's control of the Temple Mount since 1967 and the razing of the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in St. Louis.
VERDICT For a book about buildings, the paucity of illustrations is unfortunate. This will appeal more to social than architectural historians.
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