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Ruin: Photographs of a Vanishing America Hardcover – June 16, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Down East Books; 1 edition (June 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892727934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892727933
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 0.9 x 12.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #340,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Ted Marks on July 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Brian Vanden Brink's photographs of a decaying America provoke both melancholy and wonder. This is a thoughtful book that is worth keeping at hand for those times when one feels a need for introspection. Each of us likes to think that we are unique with eternal visions of our lives, but in fact our place in this world is only temporary - doomed to a certain deadly end. But men and women tend to leave monuments behind, and Vanden Brink has captured those relics with his camera -- before the relics, too, turn to dust.

Vanden Brink is a professional architectural photographer whose career has focused on contemporary architectural design. As he traveled around the country on assignment for such magazines as Architectural Digest, the New York Times Magazine and Down East Magazine in Maine, however, Vanden Brink's artistic eye fell on old wrecks of homes, churches, stores, factories and bridges that were all but falling down. Fortunately, he took the time to photograph his discoveries.

Vanden Brink is following a grand tradition in modern photography. The pioneer in this genre, of course, was Eugene Atget who focused on ancien France with his 19th century photographs of ghostly structures. Andre Kertesz was also a well know chronicler of fading architecture, as was Maine native Berenice Abbott. More recently, William Christenberry captured the essence of the old south with his penetrating photographs of crumbling buildings overgrown by vines and trees.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Long on May 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
sensitive and beautiful photos, color and b&w, of architectural sites - all kinds. Taken while on assignment elsewhere, Brian Vanden Brink shows his expertise in selecting grand old views, places that have stories to tell. Well worth owing; while a coffee table format, yet this will be a book I turn to again and again.

Amazon.com: Ruin: Photographs of a Vanishing America: Brian Vanden Brink: Books
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on July 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Brian Vanden Brink is an architectural photographer who has been taking memorable pictures of the interiors and exteriors of American buildings for almost 30 years. In "Ruin: Photographs of a Vanishing America", Brian has captured hauntingly beautiful images of abandoned homes, churches, mills, are storefronts. A few of the images are in black-and-white, but most of them are in color. Of special note are the photographs of such unusual subjects as the 300 foot tall chimney of a lead smelter, and the stygian depths of an Air Force plutonium storage vault. Enhanced with an informed and informative foreword by historic preservation and architecture expert Howard Mansfield, "Ruin" is a fascinating browse and a very highly recommended addition for any personal, professional, academic, or community library American Photography collection.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By anne masker on June 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The photographs were wonderful, but had hoped for more US locations. Also, text other than the specific location would have been most welcome.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dion Steven on September 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With structural "history" like this we see what man once created but no longer has the time nor talent to! To consider these structures in decay and imagine their previous glory is a testament to the poor state of the trades of today and the ingenuity of a different time.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Susan F. Witzell on August 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I saw an exhibit of Brian Vanden Brink's photos, ones from the book, recently. The book was also on display. I was expecting a consistency of viewpoint, like the cover photograph, of beautifully composed scenes with an evocative atmosphere. There were very few that matched this. The points of view were all very different and not tightly composed for the most part. Documentary rather than good photographs.

As for the book itself, it violated one of the rules that I hold as absolute (as a photographer and book designer). Some photos were spread across two pages, destroying what focus there could have been. I don't care how spectacular a photo is. It should never be ruined in the publication of a book by being spread across the gutter onto the next page.

I was glad I had not bought the book yet and removed it from my Amazon wish list.

Susan F Witzell
Falmouth, MA
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sparky on December 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My wife is an amature photographer who's interests rest in abandoned buildings and rural America. This coffee table book made a great gift as she got the best of everything in a nicely bound read. I'd recommend this title for a graduation, anniversary, or any other type of occasion.
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By fiddler on June 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I agree with all the good comments in the other reviews and in the introductory comments of the book itself. One sense one gets from seeing or indeed visiting such ruins is a sense that for at least a brief moment the place is all yours. There are no residents to disturb or to be shooing you away. In many cases, though, of such places I know of, the owners may have abandoned the property only to build a new place a few hundred yards away. The old place could not be brought up to modern standards and amenities at any reasonable cost.
One place to look for abandoned homes is in National Parks where in the park formation residents were forced off their land. One such area I am familiar with is Shenandoah National Park. The local communities nearby still have descendents of those owners exhibiting a bit of hostility to what happened. In the author's state of residence,Maine, the National Park there, Acadia, on Mt Desert Island, was created instead by gifts from generous owners, the Rockefellers being one.
Another great book in the same genre just published by the University of Virginia is:
Lost Communities of Virginia
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