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Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas Paperback


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Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas + Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas + A Field Guide to Getting Lost
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (November 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520274040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520274044
  • Product Dimensions: 12.1 x 7.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Rebecca Snedeker and Rebecca Solnit's Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas is a book about New Orleans, but it's also a book about the kind of shared experiences and tensions that could exist in almost any city. Twenty-two maps illustrate ancient and recent histories of the Crescent City, with local tabs that inspire hums of pride. . . . Though many of those labels are specific to New Orleans, the themes they highlight exist other places, making the book not only a local's guide to the city, but also an anthropologist's guide to the idea of metropolis."
(Jeanie Riess Gambit 2013-11-01)

"Unique maps and eclectic essays pair to create a thought-provoking portrait of a singular city."
(Anita Perala Manhattan 2013-10-01)

"An elegant and fascinating volume of maps, essays and artwork. . . . The result is intelligent, often beautiful prose and compelling maps in an exciting exploration of the idiosyncratic details, gestures and rituals that determine how people inhabit, love and perceive this elusive and entrancing city."
(Katie Walenter Gambit 2013-11-19)

"'Unfathomable City's' secret weapon is its imaginative cartography. . . . Each chart, like a plate in a restaurant, has ingredients and flavors that take the reader deep into the city's history. If you think you know these streets, this atlas will make you want to walk them again."
(David D'Arcy San Francisco Chronicle 2013-11-24)

"A deeply illuminating assemblage of maps and essays."
(Lynell George Chicago Tribune 2013-12-06)

"A vivid portrait of one of America's most culturally rich cities. More than an atlas or a travel guide, the book provides a compendium of perspectives and histories, comprised of 22 short essays and numerous colorful and beautifully illustrated companion maps. . . . A captivating read for tourists, Louisiana residents, and just about anyone looking to gain familiarity with United States history, folklore, and myth-culture."  STARRED REVIEW
(Publishers Weekly 2013-12-06)

"Unfathomable City is no standard atlas. . . . With beautiful maps and challenging essays, Unfathomable City presents New Orleans as infinitely complex and ultimately unknowable. The result is not a comprehensive guide, but an invitation."  STARRED REVIEW
(Pamela Toler Shelf Awareness 2013-12-10)

"New Orleans natives tell the same story in boardrooms and bus stops: Their city is a puzzle wrapped in a tease, a mystery scented by sweet olive and garbage, veiled by humidity, echoing with brass bands and the occasional gunshot. That’s the mystery probed on each page of 'Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas,' the grand, map-laden anthology assembled by local filmmaker Rebecca Snedeker and the celebrated essayist and thinker Rebecca Solnit."
(Chris Waddington New Orleans Times-Picayune 2013-12-09)

"The maps are playful, colorful and alive—in contrast to the utility we're used to with online mapping sites and apps. They're a joy to study; New Orleanians will no doubt pore over the map depicting the ongoing revival of once moribund St. Claude Avenue and the parade routes of the city's archaic but surviving social-aid and pleasure clubs. Tourists familiarizing themselves with the city may spend more time on the "Repercussions" map, tracing jazz history and club locations, or Billy Sothern's "sites of contemplation and delight," featuring sculpture gardens, synagogues and Meyer the Hatter. . . . Ms. Solnit and Ms. Snedeker prove that atlases can still fire the imagination and incite wonder."
(Wayne Curtis Wall Street Journal 2013-12-06)

From the Inside Flap

"This series of atlases is one of my absolute favorites. Vivid, beautiful, and deceptively meaningful, Unfathomable City successfully pushes cartographic conventions. It explores what it means to know a place, not just the street grid. A delight to behold, this is an incredible achievement rarely seen in modern cartography." —William McNulty, cartographer, former director of maps at National Geographic, former graphics editor, New York Times

"This bright, rolling river of a book carries a chorus of mapmakers, writers, and artists singing of deep memory in New Orleans. Unfathomable City is a book to cherish—and sure to be a classic." —Jason Berry, New Orleans–based journalist and coauthor of Up from the Cradle of Jazz: New Orleans Music since World War II

"Race, space, and place: this atlas is a people’s ecology of persistent resistance, an open-ended historical geography guiding toward an indomitable future—a permanent revolution no less likely than the city itself. Read this book!" —Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, CUNY Graduate Center

More About the Author

San Francisco writer, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit is the author of thirteen books about art, landscape, community, ecology, politics, hope, and memory. A product of the California public education system from kindergarten to graduate school, she has worked with Native American land rights, antinuclear, human rights, antiwar and other issues as an activist and journalist.

Her new book is a departure from the previous 12 solo projects, a tall book of 22 colorful maps and 19 essays titled Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, made with 27 artists, writers, and cartographers.

She shops regularly at Amazon for books she can't get at her local independent bookstores, but she loves the local independents, frequents them constantly, particularly the Green Arcade and City Lights. She is very grateful to her readers, for writers are nothing without readers and books are dormant treasures that come alive when they're open and read; they live inside your head....

Customer Reviews

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See all 17 customer reviews
A must-have for anyone who loves NoLA.
Jessica Handler
If you are a New Orleanian, if you have visited New Orleans and loved it or you want to find out what we are all about!
Celia Krebs
Gave one copy for a Christmas gift, keeping a copy for myself...it is that good.
J K Shaffer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Denis Vukosav TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
“Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas” written/edited by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker is a fabulous book about New Orleans; consisting of variety of well-written texts and maps that facilitate orientation in this unordinary city with a lot of faces, make this atlas an indispensable literary work for all those who are already in love with Crescent City or are planning to visit it (and surely fall in love).

In short, this is a book that contains real maps of New Orleans together with some make-believe ones, all interwoven with beautifully written essays, well-edited and designed edition by two Rebecca editors/authors that gives great homage to this multi-faceted city loaded with contradictions.

The essay topics are diverse, but I believe that many could be interested for titles such as “Hot and Steamy: Selling Seafood and Selling Sex” or “Stationary Revelations: Sites of Contemplation and Delight”.

Therefore this sweet collection that has a little bit of everything about this mysterious city I can recommend to all those who already have roamed its streets or planning to do so because its information, maps and city spirit that speaks from these pages will be of great help.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paula Maire McKinley on December 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is an amazing book for those who love New Orleans or those like me who knew little to nothing. This is not necessarily a book for those looking for vacation tips for visiting New Orleans. However the history, the images, the culture, and the true New Orleans. Something about the tone throughout the conveyed not only experience with the city, but a profound knowledge beyond the poster 'mardi gras'. Excellent book. The only thing I would suggest is with a reprint is that you make the book shorter. I have worked at bookstores and libraries for a long time and the height of Unfathomable City is unusual and would be hard to place on the shelf. That is without buying into premium real estate of the ends of bookshelves or creating their own displays. However this is such a minor detail and Unfathomable is a great read.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Handler on October 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
A gorgeous, imaginative, and intricate look at New Orleans from the ground up. Unforgettable. A must-have for anyone who loves NoLA.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By nancyblue3 on January 3, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good reference to New Orleans as well as displaying a bit of history. This is a great book to have around, especially if you live in, live near, or just visit the Crescent City. It is a fun book to just spend a little time with without having to really do any studying and yet you will bound to learn something.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ben Delaney on January 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love maps, and I love new ways of seeing. This book fills both those desires, and more.

I got this for a gift for my wife, a NOLA native. We both love it. It's filled with historical oddities and little-known tidbits that help explain why New Orleans is the way it is, and how the people who live there keep it such a special place.

If you've ever been to New Orleans, you will love this book. If you've never been there, what's wrong with you? Get this book and discover things about New Orleans that make it even more fascinating!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Celia Krebs on December 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You MUST have this book! If you are a New Orleanian, if you have visited New Orleans and loved it or you want to find out what we are all about! Fabulous illustrations!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Whitman on January 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sent out as a gift to a N.O. relative and got rave reviews. I plan to check out the San Francisco Atlas for myself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Norma J. Wolf on January 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a request from my son for a Christmas gift. He looked at it most of the day. Based on his evaluation I am giving it 5 stars.
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