From Publishers Weekly
A mere glance through the pages of this book offers a quick education about the excesses of the recently built environment. By its very nature, sprawl is hard to identify and track, but Hayden, a Yale professor of architecture and American studies, provides a combination of informed but breezy text and 75 large, crisp color images that greatly simplify the task of "decoding everyday American landscapes." Organized alphabetically, with a big two-page spread for each entry, the book moves from "alligator" (an investment that "eats" cash flow, represented here by the vast and ghostly grid of an unbuilt New Mexico suburb) to "zoomburb" (a suburb on steroids, illustrated here by Arizona's spiraling Sun City). Along the way, the reader comes to the depressing understanding that troubling phenomena one might have thought strictly local or temporary—for instance, houses where the garage is the dominant projecting feature—are common enough to have acquired names, in this case "snout house." But more than a set of colorful terms—all of which, from "ball pork" to "parsley round the pig" are carefully sourced—this book is a concise guide to not only sprawl itself but to the powerful political and financial forces that sustain it. If the book has one problematic aspect, it is that Wark's aerial photographs are often so vividly beautiful that they risk aestheticizing their often grim subjects—but their seductive quality serves to draw the viewer into Hayden's passionately sustained argument.
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[A] landmark contribution to this literature. (The Nation)
A flair for words and a collection of stunning photographs. . . Captivating . . . Hayden packs a lot of information and a wealth of clever coinages into a brief, quick-moving text. The Field Guide
will both inform and entertain readers who are disturbed by the wastefulness and disconnection of conventional development. (Philip Langdon - New Urban News)
Zooming alligators! This is a handy introduction to some curious ways of using the land. (landartnet.org)
Field guides to plants abound, but where can an amateur (un)naturalist find something to lead him or her through the jungle of terms used in modern land development? A Field Guide to Sprawl
provides such a resource. (American Scientist)
Hayden argues that, in its vividness, slang fuses description and critique, mobilizing the imagination in a way that expert speech cannot. . . . Once again, Hayden has chosen to look where others had not thought to look, and it is to our benefit. Armed with more knowledge of what came before us and with what stands before us, we are better prepared to take position within the contested landscape of sprawl. (Jacqueline Tatom - Journal of Architectural Education)
A wonderful guide to the terrible things being done to the American landscape. (Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation)