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Desert America: Territory of Paradox Hardcover – December 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A stimulus for thought, prompting readers to ponder the very nature of the desert. --Urban Land -- Pits the perceived silence of the desert against the boisterous development that defines the visual character of the American Southwest. --I.D. Magazine -- This succinct volume reconsiders the American desert from California to Texas. --Metropolis Magazine

Looking at the intersection of nature and technology in America's driest, hottest, and most expansive states, this book explores the variety of strange ways people use this place of paradoxes. --John Hill, Archidose

The book manages to plot out quite nicely, the full spectrum of uses and facilities in the American desert. The large panoramic photos are generally of excellent quality. --Death by Architecture
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Actar (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 849654009X
  • ISBN-13: 978-8496540095
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 9.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,519,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Emcee on November 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Most residents of the southwest are well-aware that the desert is hardly 'deserted'. It is, in fact, being increasingly developed and at quite a rapid pace. The desert offers many the opportunity to start anew, providing a tabula rasa of sorts. Developers plan "ideal" cities from scratch, importing lifestyles and landscapes to a climate and topography that doesn't easily accept these foreign ideals. Large, water-thirsty lawns and golf-courses abound, recklessly demanding irrigation in drought-prone areas.

The perceived isolation of the desert provides cover for an array of typically illegal activities such as gambling and prostitution. These are the lifeblood of Las Vegas.

What isn't common knowledge however are the multitude of uses beyond recreation and habitation that the desert has accommodated. A large military presence pervades the region in the form of missile testing and combat training facilities. Underground nuclear missile launching stations, now relics of the Cold War, reside in the Arizona desert floor awaiting the curious gaze of tourists. The dry, arid climate of the Arizona desert provides an ideal resting place for retired commercial and military aircraft. Here, the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, often referred to as "The Boneyard", is believed to hold the highest concentration of aircraft in the world.

The book manages to plot out quite nicely, the full spectrum of uses and facilities in the American desert. The large panoramic photos are generally of excellent quality and are effective in demonstrating the matter at hand. The text is a bit thin for most of the sites but provides a good starting point for further research.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jaime R on September 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Beautifully designed. Great photography. Lots of typos though. Great travel-log description of tons of interesting, influential, and obscure places in the American desert, written from the perspective of an architectural anthropologist. The writing itself is very brief and concise, but insightful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on November 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Now some years old this can be picked up quite cheaply as I did for my copy. Considering how inexpensive it was I enjoyed looking through it. This is really a contemporary photo book of the south-western States and how the hand of man has shaped it. But considering the size of desert America with millions of acres, it's worth saying that man's hand has only really touched a small fraction of the land.

It's the comprehensive coverage that I thought was rather impressive. Chapters (rather ostentatiously called books) look at illegal border crossings from Mexico, the Salton Sea, energy (wind power, Hoover dam, sun arrays) tourism (Sun City, Las Vegas) the military (the biggest polluters in the area) Davis-Monthan plane graveyard, the Saint Agustin radio astronomy reflectors, Kitt Peak observatory and more. They all get excellent color photos that say something backed up with some historical black and whites plus maps and other graphics.

If you are interested in this part of America I think the book is worth getting because it covers so much of what is going on there and it's all presented in a well designed and printed landscape book.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jack Straw on January 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Paradox indeed. There is some arresting photography here and a nice look at the visual paradox such as development hard by desolation.

I found the text to be the typical elitist "looking down the nose" at an environment and society that the authors appear to think is inferior.

It's as if a group of "world citizens" with way too much education and way too little life experience set out to make a statement. The statement says much about the authors/editors and nothing interesting or fresh about the subject.
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