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Rubble: Unearthing the History of Demolition Paperback – November 28, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Engaging.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“A live-wire, multilevel study . . . the demolition of buildings inspires complex emotions—shock, horror, even awe—and those responses are well worth thinking about.” —Time Out New York
“Urban design, it turns out, is as much about subtraction as addition. With matchless wit, Jeff Byles explores the American obsession with demolishing our architectural past. He’s the poet laureate of those unsung heroes: the ‘unbuilders.’” —Mike Davis, author of Dead Cities
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More About the Author
Jeff studied English literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He holds a MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. He got his start in journalism at The Anchorage Press, a weekly paper where for several years he wrote a column about beer. Jeff served for two years as managing editor at The Architect's Newspaper, and most recently has directed research at Van Alen Institute.
A native of Portland, Oregon, he lives in New York City.
Top Customer Reviews
Mr. Byles writes that his idea for this book was formed while watching the twin towers fall on 9/11 and the resulting demolition activities at Ground Zero. However, instead of performing research by visiting jobsites and speaking with experienced demolitionists, the author openly elected to solicit kooky, over-the-top hyperbolic sound bites ("I have set off more big bangs than anybody on earth in peacetime") from three or four self-serving contractors who were willing to pontificate quasi-poignant phrases on demand ("We are seizers, we seize... the building is fighting me, but I've got to bring her to her knees... [via a] symphony of failure") in return for gushing favorable mention (Just one of Mr. Byles' selected demo buddies is hailed as, "the philosopher king of destruction... part matador, part sage, part connoisseur of collapse... a convinced neurobiologist... the dentist of urban decay... the Mozart of dynamite... the Guru of gravity...", and many more). Perhaps this would be warranted and even entertaining, if any of it were true.
To make things worse, Mr.Read more ›
Of such fascinating bits is RUBBLE composed, a charming and exceedingly thorough researching of the subject of purposeful architectural destruction. In the last century, rubbling gained a macabrely festive reputation when entrepreneurs in Las Vegas realized that people would pay to see buildings fall. In a non-city that continually recreates itself, "old" hotels and casinos (30 years is antiquated by Vegas standards) can attract a bigger crowd for their collapse than they did for their opening night. The Vegas "rubble-rousers," as Byles cleverly calls them, have brought razing to a high art, with pyrotechnic displays and lavish pre-show advertising.
It's impossible to talk about how a building collapses (it's referred to as "implosion," even though that is, technically speaking, a misnomer) without remembering the World Trade Center's twin towers, the Titanic of the late twentieth century. The towers were skyscrapers whose demise was a sucker punch at the very notion of progress, financial hocus-pocus and technological mega-complexity.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A VERY BASIC REVIEW OF A TOPIC THAT HAS BEEN BETTER COVERED IN DETAIL BY OTHER BOOKS. CONTAINS LITTLE DETAIL AND WORTH REFERNCING.Published on January 25, 2013 by GRAEME
On a subject that could be really fascinating, this book drowns in its own smarmy prose. What else could explain the trite colloqualisms, the coy alliterations, and the irrational... Read morePublished on December 15, 2008 by Ellen Corrigan
As one who is fascinated with the old, I thoroughly enjoyed this thought provoking expose about the place "unbuilding" has played in our past and its role in our future. Read morePublished on March 12, 2006 by Wesley Bishop