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On These Walls: Inscriptions & Quotations in the Library of Congress Paperback – October 30, 2008

10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Y. Cole is founding director of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and a 33-year Library of Congress veteran. He has published widely about books and libraries in society as well as about the history of the Library of Congress.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Scala Arts Publishers Inc. (October 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857595459
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857595451
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,412,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Loves the View VINE VOICE on June 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
If you go to the Library of Congress, bring your binoculars. There is some beautiful work with exquisite detail high above your head. You can buy post cards of it or pick up pamphlets that show and describe the more outstanding works. A lot of it is just, well, "there" with no context. At last, someone, John Cole, who has been a tireless promoter of libraries though his work at The Center for the Book, has put it all together.

For me, it was not so much the inscriptions, but the ability to actually see the detail of these wonderful examples of classical public art.

Interestingly, the list of artists at the back shows very few name recognition artists. Some are known for studying with the famous. Quite a few have other large scale works in state capitol buildings, libraries and other cultural institutions, parks, etc.

One draw back is that at the maps in the end do not note the locations of the works, you have to flip back and forth for that. Another is that while this book would have been more expensive in a larger format, the content would be much better presented if it were.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Powell on September 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Recently, I visited the Library of Congress and enjoyed reading and pondering all the quotations and inscriptions on the walls of the Thomas Jefferson Building. I bought this book, thinking it would contain those quotations and inscriptions. It does contain a few, but not many at all. Most of the book (including the photographs) explains the art work (paintings, sculptures, murals, etc.) of the building rather than the quotations and inscriptions (which is what I expected given the title...). There is a fair amount of photographs of famous individuals names and discussion of whose names are in that area of the library, so perhaps that is what the author meant by inscriptions, but definitely not what I expected. The book is well done for a general overview on the artwork throughout the building, but not well done at all for the reflection on the actual quotations and inscriptions within the Thomas Jefferson Building (the main building). So, beware of buying this book if what you actually want are photographs and further insight into the quotations and inscriptions.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Maine Lady on March 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent overview of the history of the Library of Congress. It is full of color pictures of the interior, the accompanying narrative provides all of the quotations and inscriptions on the walls. I purchased this after a dinner meeting at the Library. I was overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and complexity of the place, with no time to explore. The book has been an excellent supplement.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. Looper on June 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was enthralled by this book! I loved looking at the large photographs of all kinds of artwork in the Library of Congress, much of it on the walls and ceilings. The descriptions were descriptive, factual, and very interesting. It made me want to visit the Library of Congress again and pay better attention to my surroundings!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Happy Reader TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 18, 2014
Format: Paperback
By Beautiful Building, I mean the first and original Library of Congress the building, the Jefferson Building. This book covers all three of the Library's buildings, but the Jefferson is the most ornate. Lovely color photographs illustrate "On These Walls", at least one on every page, most large and some spreading over two pages. The text and captions are excellent and succinct.

This isn't a huge coffee-table book with ad nauseam history and art and architectural analysis, and it doesn't pretend to be. Though slightly oversized, at 10"h x 9"w, it's only 1/2" thick. This is a volume giving you a taste of the inscriptions and the paintings and mosaics that accompany the many inscriptions throughout the three buildings that make up the Library of Congress. Giving the reader just "a taste" makes sense because many of the building inscriptions are in sets. For example, the West Corridor of The Thomas Jefferson Building has a set of inscriptions of the names of eight sciences: zoology, physics, mathematics, geology, archaeology, botany, astronomy and chemistry. Each is accompanied by a romantic/classical painting of a woman representing that science. The book shows you only three of these ladies, but that's enough to give you a good idea of their set-up and style.

The downside, however, is that many of the inscriptions and their illustrations are set high on a wall or ceiling. A photograph is probably the only way to get a view of their details or to even read the writing.

I've had only a couple weekends to explore Washington D.C., enough time to see only a small fraction of what's open to the public. Though I've heard of the beauty of the Library of Congress building, I have yet to see it.
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