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Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 166 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-2361950941
ISBN-10: 2361950944
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Matthew Christopher’s photographic record of decay depicts the tragic truth: that something extraordinary has ended and that nothing like it may ever come back. We’re now going in the other direction despite a lot of wishful thinking: toward a loss of complexity, a reduction in the scale of activity, a loss of artistry, and probably the end of many comforts, conveniences and amenities we’ve come to take for granted.”
James Howard Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere

The places Christopher photographs tell their stories with silence and extraordinary light – the spaces between the life and death of a building. His pictures make me feel like someone told me a secret.
Jane Derenowski, Reporter, NBC Nightly News

It’s romantic, it’s nostalgic, it’s wistful, it’s provocative. It’s about time, nature, mortality, disinvestment.
Joann Greco, The Atlantic Cities

Through his photographs, Christopher makes a powerful statement about job loss, urban blight and historic preservation. In light of the collapse of American industry and the subsequent economic meltdown, the relevance of these topics has never been more important to the examination of America’s national identity.
Joseph and Barrie Ann George, The Sentinel

From the Back Cover

Throughout the ages, mankind has been fascinated by the ruins of previous societies. The desire to gain a greater understanding of our past has driven archaeologists, artists, and scholars from across the world to study the vestiges of lifestyles that have vanished in an attempt to capture their mystique and beauty.

Originally intended as an examination of the rise and fall of the state hospital system, Matthew Christopher’s
Abandoned America rapidly grew to encompass derelict factories and industrial sites, schools, churches, power plants, hospitals, prisons, military installations, hotels, resorts, homes, and more. Through his collection of writing and photography, Christopher has spent the last decade documenting the ruins of one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known: our own. Exploring sites like the charred remains of the Hotel Do De, the rusted cells of the Essex County Jail Annex, the sublime majesty of the Church of the Transfiguration, or the eerie and dilapidated remnants of the New Castle Elks Lodge, the work spans architectural treasures left to the elements and then all too often lost forever.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Jonglez Publishing; 1 edition (December 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 2361950944
  • ISBN-13: 978-2361950941
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 1.1 x 11.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Evocative photography that captures both the glory and demise of landmark cultural institutions. Schools, churches, factories, prisons- all part of the tapestry of an earlier America that has started to recede into memory. Matthew Christopher has found them and dug into their mysteries and stories with powerful imagery and accompanying text.

A number of the places photographed were either razed or gutted shortly after the photos were taken, so the photographs themselves have taken on a life as the last reminder of these sometimes hallowed and desperately neglected places.

I've followed his work for a couple of years online and this is an excellent collection of some of his best.

Highly recommended, and no one paid me to say this!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What this book is not:

*A coffee table book that will never be opened, that'll make you look smart or artsy just by leaving it out;
*"Just a book of pictures";
*Something you can read in one sitting, no matter how voracious of a reader you are.
*"Ruin Porn".

What this book IS:

*Thought-provoking;
*Moving;
*Brilliant.

As someone who has visited the Abandoned America website and followed on Facebook for years, I can't even begin to describe to you the difference between seeing the pictures on a monitor (and I have a great monitor), vs. physically holding this book and going through the images. (With that said, I couldn't imagine looking at this on a Kindle. You need this physical presence in your hands. This isn't something you swipe a finger over to go to the next page.)

You can open this book 100 times and see 100 things you missed the first time.

But it's the narratives you need to read. From the scholarly foreword to the author's remarks and thoughts of each location that set him apart from the "UrbEx" crowd--this is an educated, deep-thinking man who put as much of himself into this book, and it's through his eyes that you view these photographs.

The quality of the construction of the book is on par for a piece of art such as this, too; more than once, I've brushed my thumb and forefinger together making sure two pages aren't "sticking"; they're not. It's heavy-duty, quality paper. There are no blurred images, and for the first time in forever, it's a book with no typos. The editing was on point. EVERYTHING was on point.

Would I recommend to a friend? I'd recommend to a friend, enemy and everyone in between. I look forward to a sequel.
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Format: Hardcover
This book isn't just about photography, it's about American consumption, excess, and waste. It's a representation of loss and as the author/photographer Matthew Christopher put it "photography of ruins is fundamentally about death." This book is a haunting reminder of mortality.

Mr. Christopher highlights thirty locations with brief yet in-depth history. He also includes personal feelings and hardships in documenting these locations. Most of the locations featured no longer exist making these photographs thought evoking, permanent reminders of a loss of history, culture, and in some cases a loss of self.
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Format: Hardcover
Having seen several similar books and owning some it seems to me they fall into two formats: those that are just photos with the shortest captions (location and maybe a date the photo was taken) and those where the photographer has taken the trouble to research some background detail about what is shown in their picture.

Fortunately Matthew Christopher is of the latter group and this gives his photo much more credibility because the text here adds to what we see. Another great feature of the book is the range of ruins, admittedly mostly in the eastern US but you'll see factories, churches, prisons, power stations, hotels, hospitals, schools and more.

The choice of structures reveals something about societies attitude to abandonment, the Bell Labs building in Holmdel, New Jersey (designed by Eero Saarinen in 1959--1962) was an office block and the photos show a deserted, tidy interior. Basically the contents were easily removed but turn over the page to the next ruin, Carrie Furnaces in Rankin, Pennsylvania and this huge industrial building was just left to rust away in the countryside. The Bell Labs could be used again, Carrie Furnaces really just needs to be (expensively) scrapped but in fact remains as a visitor attraction with guided tours.

I thought the most fascinating photos are those of factories where everything remains but slowly falling apart. The Scranton Lace Company just stopped mid-shift in 2002 and the eight photos reveal machinery still in place. Lebow Brothers Clothing in Baltimore closed in 1985 with hundreds of suits and coats still on the racks, they were still there when Christopher took the photos in 2008. He makes the point that it's just too much trouble to sell off clothing.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is far more than I expected. The photographs in the book are nicely done. I have seen most of the photographs on Facebook prior to the books release. However the photographs on Facebook did not have the stories about the places pictured. The book includes the stories behind the places. I do wish the text were bigger in the book. I also wish the book was available in digital format so that I can enjoy it wherever I am via my phone or tablet. Additionally I have really enjoyed communicating with the author via Facebook. He is quick to respond to questions and comments.
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