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From Bauhaus to Our House Reprint Edition

4 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0312429140
ISBN-10: 0312429142
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A search-and-destroy mission against architectural pretensions . . . a funny book.” ―New York

“Full of insight . . . marvelously right.” ―People

“Wolfe's delightfully witty, biting history of modern architecture is a scintillating high comedy of big money, manners, and massive manipulation of public taste.” ―Publishers Weekly

“No wonder . . . this book is the hottest topic in Manhattan's architectural salons.” ―The New York Times Book Review

“Tom Wolfe has squeezed a funny tale out of glass and stone. . . hilarious.” ―The Wall Street Journal

“Sharp serpent's-tooth wit, useful cultural insight, and snazzy zip! pop! writing.” ―Playboy

Language Notes

Text: English, Spanish (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (November 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312429142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312429140
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tom Wolfe is the author of more than a dozen books, among them such contemporary classics as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and A Man in Full. A native of Richmond, Virginia, he earned his B.A. at Washington and Lee University and a Ph.D. in American studies at Yale. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Tom Wolfe is without a doubt the most honest and humorously penetrating social critic since Mark Twain. He writes what we would love to say and in a manner any of us would give our pinkies to employ. This book, though not as good as others, goes right to the heart of the problems with modern architecture that have plagued our cities and our aesthetic sense. Lest some of you think I'm a cultural philistine, I am myself an architecture student, and I can say that Wolfe's skewerings of the modern profession are so accurate as to be almost omniscient. He rightfully lampoons the excessive intellectualization, the hackneyed leftism, and reverse snobbery of architectects since the 20's while showing the lamentable effects of these traits. His analysis, though shallow, is regretably dead accurate for he understands the social and intellectual impulses (and justifications) that have driven the profession since the Bauhaus. Tom Wolfe constantly plays the role of the young boy in "The Emperor's New Clothes" and, once again he is pointing out the laughably naked elite which are producing architecture these days. I do not agree with all of his analysis of certain buildings, but his social critique from the archictural theorists to the clients to the "working class" are all as humorous, sad and accurate as you expect from Wolfe.
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Format: Paperback
From Bauhaus to Our House is inescapably a book about architecture, but it's about more than that, too. Wolfe uses architecture as a lens to magnify a problem you see again and again in human society and human history - group think and mindless following.

I have no architectural background, and found Wolfe's (very) brief history of 20th century Western architecture to be very interesting. I've always wondered how we ended up with so many monotonous and kinda fugly buildings in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. In Bauhaus, Wolfe offers up his explanation in a fun, readable manner.

Beyond that, however, Wolfe also gives you a look at one instance of a rather homogeneous group of people - in this case academic architects - come up with an idea that takes on a life of its own and becomes too powerful for anyone to challenge. Call it group think, peer pressure, mindless following, popular culture or the will of the majority, it's a somewhat frightening process and here Wolfe shows it to us in a case where - thankfully - all we got from it was a lot of ugly buildings.

Recommended.
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Format: Paperback
For the rest of us who find cold, modern architecture to be...well...cold and modern, this book will briefly explain why you feel that way...and why some people seem to like it so much. It is a book that is clearly only skimming the surface (look at it sideways, how could it purport to be otherwise) but it's a fun surface to skim. I also wouldn't read this if you're a devout post-modernist. You'll find uncomfortable parallels between Wolfe's jabs at architecture and jabs others make a po-mos. A fun read that will enlighten someone who never hopes to be an "expert" on architecture, but would like to know why some God-awful, very expensive buildings ever got built.
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Format: Paperback
One doesn't normally think of a book on architecture as being funny, but Wolfe's hilarious evisceration of modern architecture's sacred cows is truly a scream. Wolfe skewers the pretensions and downright foolishness of some of the most famous names in 20th Century architecture, and does so in a manner that is always engaging and fun to read. You may not agree with everything he says, but you certainly won't be bored by his witty and provocative observations. As good as Wolfe the novelist is, Wolfe the essayist is even better.
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Format: Paperback
Tom Wolfe's FROM BAUHAUS TO OUR HOUSE skewers the Bauhaus School and Modernism in general (characterized by the International Style of architecture), as well as Post-Modernism (essentially, another version of Modernism). It's an intelligent, satirical look at an early 20th century European architectural ideology that rose up to reject the bourgeois and design for the working class--which the International Style architects may have regarded as too benighted to know what it really wanted. Apparently, according to these architects, what the worker would want, if s/he knew better, was to live in unadorned, black-and-white, steel and concrete boxes constructed with mass produced materials. Architecture schools and art institutes in the U.S. not only enthusiastically embraced the ideology ("They do things better in Europe," said Malcolm Cowley), but also its principle European champions, giving places of honor to the likes of Walter Gropius (Harvard), Mies van der Rohe (Armour Institute), and Josef Albers (Yale). Much of this movement was constructed around drawings and theory vice actually building buildings. In this way, architecture suffered from some of the same scholastic claptrap as the other arts, indeed of academe itself. When Wolfe drolly comments, "For the ambitious architect, having a theory became as vital and natural as having a telephone" (p. 121), he could have been speaking in general of contemporary academics--which many of these architects, ensconced in their university "compounds," were.

Wolfe's targets easily lend themselves to such a treatment. The Modern architects' disdain for the opinions of both client and occupant are obnoxious. One wonders why the client (but not so much the occupant) kept, as Wolfe puts it, taking it like a man.
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