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Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted (Merloyd Lawrence Book)by Justin Martin
Synopses & Reviews
Frederick Law Olmsted is arguably the most important historical figure that the average American knows the least about. Best remembered for his landscape architecture, from New York's Central Park to Boston's Emerald Necklace to Stanford University's campus, Olmsted was also an influential journalist, early voice for the environment, and abolitionist credited with helping dissuade England from joining the South in the Civil War. This momentous career was shadowed by a tragic personal life, also fully portrayed here.
Most of all, he was a social reformer. He didn't simply create places that were beautiful in the abstract. An awesome and timeless intent stands behind Olmsted's designs, allowing his work to survive to the present day. With our urgent need to revitalize cities and a widespread yearning for green space, his work is more relevant now than it was during his lifetime. Justin Martin restores Olmsted to his rightful place in the pantheon of great Americans.
"Martin (Nader: Crusader, Spoiler, Icon) begins his ardent biography by positing that Olmsted 'may well be the most important American historical figure that the average person knows least about. 'FLO' was a man for whom landing the lucrative post of designing Central Park was perhaps the least extraordinary episode in a quite remarkable life. Restless from a young age, Olmsted's sense of adventure compelled him to embark upon a turbulent stretch as a sailor, which Martin renders as thrillingly as any maritime tale. Science lectures at Yale and an affinity for Thomas Carlyle's Sartor Resartus inspired a pursuit of horticulture. Opportunistic and resilient, 'Olmsted dove into farm life with aplomb.' Incessantly plagued by ill health and family tragedy, Olmsted nevertheless made numerous trips to Europe. He was a mercurial man, an author, journalist, and prospective businessman before he became a pioneering landscape architect. Olmsted (1822-1903), who took part in the Civil War battlefield relief effort, was an activist, environmentalist (helping to save Yosemite and Niagara Falls), and humanitarian, as well as an incredibly gifted visionary. Martin presents Olmsted's era in all its glory, with the intimate affairs and staggering accomplishments of the great man unfolding against the vivid backdrop of 19th-century America. Photos. "
Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book News Annotation:
New York based biographer Justin Martin takes on the extraordinarily multifaceted life and career of the man known for his design of Central Park but whose legacy reaches far deeper and wider. The text is supported by a generous section of b&w photos of Olmsted and his family, and some sites, including the McLean asylum where he had designed the landscape and where he eventually died. In the appendix, the author offers a list of sites he visited during research for this book, describing each one and where to get the best view and imagining what Olmsted might have seen. These include Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California, Stanford University Main Quad, Yosemite, and Arnold Arboretum in Boston, among others. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This definitive, first full-scale biography of Olmsted--famed designer of New York's Central Park--reveals him also as a brilliant political and social reformer.
About the Author
Justin Martin, author of highly praised biographies of Alan Greenspan and Ralph Nader, lives in Forest Hills Gardens, New York, an enclave of New York City designed by Olmsted's son.
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Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Architects