"Ranging widely over epoch and territory, from Henry James to M. Night Shyamalan, from Winterthur to the Poconos, from Eakins' aesthetics to the economics of coal, Conn brings the material and intellectual together, revealing a unique rather than typical metropolis."—Philadelphia Inquirer
"Steven Conn's book is just a delight. It is beautifully researched and written. It is meditative and soulful. Why is Philadelphia great? Why is it so special? Why must it be preserved? Conn's book, presented with clarity and affection, makes the best case for the city I have read in a very long time. Quakerism. Clark Park. William Penn. Pearl Buck. The city mural program. The orchestra. The zoo. Conn has tied together all the different roots and traditions and institutions of the Philadelphia region together in a wonderful package."—Buzz Bissinger, author of A Prayer for the City and Friday Night Lights
"In this beautifully wrought book, Steven Conn combines an insider's intimate knowledge and abiding affection for his hometown, a historian's deep research, and a social critic's sharp wit. For Conn, history is the soul of the city. Weaving together past and present—both the commonplace and the extraordinary—Conn captures the essence of Philadelphia as no one has before."—Thomas J. Sugrue, University of Pennsylvania
"An incisive, learned, and proudly unconventional portrait of the Philadelphia region. This richly textured and well-written volume attempts neither an exhaustive historical synthesis nor a focused examination of a particular time period or topic. Instead, Conn successfully strives for something different and distinctive—a deeply personal look through the prism of socioeconomic, cultural, religious, and environmental lenses at how Philadelphia's past and present interact with and shape each other. What emerges from this undertaking is an invaluable work that joins the ranks of Nathaniel Popkin's Song of the City (2002) and Buzz Bissinger's A Prayer for the City (1997) in helping us understand the essence of what Philadelphia is now and how it got that way."—Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
From the Publisher
Steven Conn, a native Philadelphian, is coeditor (with Max Page) of Building the Nation: Americans Write About Their Architecture, Their Cities, and Their Landscape, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press, and contributes regularly to the Philadelphia Inquirer and City Paper.
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