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on November 19, 2010
The beautiful "Infinite City" belongs on any list of essential San Francisco books. Rebecca Solnit and her collaborators have taken a core sample of the endless layers of San Francisco history and laid it out in twenty-two brilliantly imagined maps and eighteen essays exploring the city's history, geography, demography, biology, and myth. "Infinite City" is vast enough to encompass the Coliseum, Coronet and Alexandria theaters; the Pipevine swallowtail, Satyr anglewing, and Orange sulfur butterflies; the Yelamu, Aramai, and Urebure peoples; the "McKittrick Hotel", "Argosy Book Shop", and Ernie's; Josephine McCrackin, Carrie Stevens Walter, and Barbara Eastman; Bechtel, RoboteX, and Jeppesen; Jimbo's Bop City, Ann's 440, and the Six Gallery; Acme Export Packing, the Pacific Far East Line, and Triple A Machine Shop; and the Richmond Branch of the San Francisco Public Library. The book itself is as lovingly designed as anything McSweeney's has published, proof that until we stop needing tactile pleasures, the screen will never replace the page.
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on August 23, 2011
Infinite City is the only book I've ever read that truly achieves what a map should as an art form. As a student of geography and GIS, I wish I had been more educated on some of her methods and encouraged to try more or Solnit's wildly imaginative interpretations. Few things are as hard to map as history and culture, for these are nonlinear and fluid concepts. As the author states, any interpretation of our sense of place is situated by our individual experience; there are therefore an "infinite" number of maps that each of us could make of the city, and each would be artistically relevant. Infinite City does a great job of highlighting both the more popular stories/folklore of San Francisco through her maps, as well as those most of us are not brilliant enough to imagine. Solnit has a keen sense of duality and contradiction, which shows in her cartography. "Poison and palate", the interplay between toxic waste generators and gourmet food destinations and how the two are not at all unrelated. "Phrenology" of the city was another of my favorites. As I finished Infinite City, I was left scratching my head wondering 1) why geography students aren't educated to value maps in the artistic sense; and 2) why aren't there more books like Infinite City for the other great cities of the world! A fantastic read, highly recommended.
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on December 30, 2010
Incredible book, an interesting view of San Francisco from a historical and sociological perspective. Please note though that this book is currently being offered by a seller for over $198. This book is being sold at the SFMOMA for $24.95. The seller's mark up is dishonest and offensive.
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on July 30, 2011
This atlas by Rebecca Solnit is an interesting attempt to describe some of the diversity and contrasts in the San Francisco Bay Area. However it is seriously flawed in its execution. There are several double page maps, but they go right into the binding so the center of the map can not be seen! This is exacerbated by the the shape of tall and narrow so that the binding is extra long. There are many double pages of text in small type referring to the the maps on other pages. It would have been much better if the maps and corresponding text were integrated on the same or opposite page so they could be viewed together. So, while the book is interesting, its usefulness is limited and difficult to use as a guide.
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on January 20, 2012
As a native of San Francisco (NOT "Frisco" or "San Fran"...it's San Francisco OR "the city"!) this book is a revelation. I have trouble putting it down. SO many details about what happened where and when, so much richness of information and cultural background. Not just a who did what and when, but whys and cultural insight. GREAT BOOK for anyone who loves "the city"!
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on January 7, 2012
If you're looking for a unique book on what do to in San Francisco or some of the odd history, this book is great. I have not read through it entirely yet, but the 1st half is great and the illustrations are amazing. Very happy with this purchase. Cool design, too!
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on March 8, 2011
It's like reader-Mapquesting your way through San Francisco while leafing through the pages of "Infinite City." Rebecca Solnit has cleverly divided The City into wonderful stories based on people, events and history which happened in each of the many and varied districts. Whether you're an armchair traveler or lucky enough to actually be in San Francisco traipsing about you will thoroughly enjoy all the wonderfully detailed maps as well as eloquently written words which entice the reader to keep moving on to the next page and district. Hard to believe it's possible because San Francisco is so well documented but this book adds many new facts and bits of
interest guaranteed to hold your attention. It's an entertaining, delightful and informative read as well as terrific reference. "Infinite City" is a new gem on my bookshelf which is located 750 miles from San Francisco. Despite the distance, as Solnit wrote, "More than anything, this is a map home."
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on June 11, 2014
I bought it for a friend who grew up in San Francisco and who loves exploring different books & media about S.F. He fell in Love with it I will be buying another copy for myself since it is a fascinating variety of perspectives and colorful maps with interesting information.. I Love It!!
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on May 25, 2014
This is one of the best books about San Francisco --
if you want more than the usual tourist information.
It is smart, compelling, and full of very well-designed
and interesting maps.
The author provides a fascinating mix of history and contemporary information,
and strives to provide readers with more than the standard historical accounts.
Best of all, she includes information that only the most observant,
keen-minded inhabitant would know and experience.
Smart, funny, useful . . . really, it's the best.
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on March 6, 2011
It has been awhile since a book captivated me to the point that I felt compelled to read it in one sitting. With beautifully executed maps and insightful essays, Rebecca Solnit and her collaborators have created a thought provoking study of the Bay Area in general and San Francisco in particular.
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