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Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted (A Merloyd Lawrence Book) Hardcover – May 31, 2011
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Kirkus Reviews, 4/15/11
“The remarkable story of America’s first, and still foremost, landscape architect…Martin helps explain the driven, artistic temperament that informed the famed landscapes. He persuasively casts Olmsted as essentially a social reformer whose passion for meaningful work found its most complete expression in the creation of public spaces intended for the enjoyment of all. A revealing look at a still-underappreciated giant whose work touches posterity more intimately and more delightfully than many of his distinguished Civil War–era contemporaries.”
Niagara Gazette, 4/16/11
“A full-scale biography.”
“[A] straightforward and enjoyable book…Reading this book, you get a full picture of the man, a man frustratingly immature and coddled for so many years, a man struck by personal tragedies…and ultimately a man whose achievements warrant a full-length biography.”
“An excellent book…Martin tells Olmsted’s life story in such a way as to bring the reader into Olmsted’s life. It is an enjoyable read that flows smoothly. A biography is enjoyable both because the subject has led an interesting life AND because the author has presented that life in a readable way. Genius of Place has just that combination. I highly recommend it."
“One of the greatest things a biographer can do is not only cover that particular person’s life, but give us an idea of the time that he or she lived in…Martin does this in spades…Enlightening.”
“A welcome exception to the rule that biographies don’t make easy reading.”
The Daily, 6/12/11
“A riveting and great intro to a fascinating architect not just of American places but American ideas.”
“Martin reveals [Olmsted] not only as a brilliant landscape architect, but also as a dedicated Abolitionist, indulgent father, and fervent conservationist.”
Landscape Architecture magazine, July 2011
“Exhaustively researched and clearly written, this volume should become the standard for students of both history and design.”
“Provides a rich history of early America as well as the compelling life story of 19th century landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted…Rich with historical details of much of America's finest landscapes…A thoroughly enjoyable book.”
Charleston Post and Courier, 7/17/11
“Reading Genius of Place feels like listening to Olmsted's best friend dishing about the private life of a real person…Martin makes a convincing argument that Olmsted saw all of his work, from park-making to gold mining, as social reform. He points out the subtle ironies of Olmstead's life and provides historical and personal background without bogging the reader down or disrupting the flow of the narrative…Genius of Place is far more than a survey of Olmsted's creations. It's a tightly woven narrative that ties together his personal life, his many vocations and his impact on a turbulent era.”
The Dirt (the American Society of Landscape Architects blog), 7/27/11
“Illuminates Olmsted’s major achievements as a visionary artist, social reformer, pioneering environmentalist, and founder of the modern profession of landscape architecture…Does not disappoint in the totality of its coverage…[Martin’s] intriguing account of Olmsted’s life…captures the significance of his legacy.”
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Olmsted was a man blessed with enormous energy and many talents. Before creating Central Park, he was one of the first writers for the New York Times. His beat? Traveling through the South to report on the conditions of slaves, which lead him to become an impassioned abolitionist. He was also a goldmine supervisor and Civil War hero, who oversaw a medical outfit that saved thousands of soldiers lives. In addition, he fought hard to preserve essential American landscapes including Yosemite and Niagara Falls.
Olmsted experienced much tragedy in his life: He nearly died following a horse and buggy crash and lost his beloved brother and 3 children. Something I really liked about the book was the Martin interspersed details about Olmsted's life with descriptions of his park creations, so you always get the personal context for his artistic creations. Through it all, this great man persevered to become one of the most important figures of the 19th century and arguably the most influential landscape architect of all time. If you love New York's Central Park or Prospect Park, or any of Olmsted's numerous other works spread out all over the country, you'll enjoy this beautifully written, remarkable book. It will change the way you see these incredible places.
It's about time a well-researched and proper tribute was written for Olmsted to whom we owe so much and without whom so much would have been lost. Thank you Mr. Martin.
Olmsted wasn't an easy man to like -- he was prickly, opinionated and didn't hesitate to inflict his gripes on others -- but Justin Martin makes his story easy to enjoy. Martin is sympathetic to his main character without being sycophantic, and makes us sympathize with the many triumphs and tragedies of Olmsted's life. He always finds the telling quote that explains why Olmsted was both celebrated and criticized.
But even more, he reveals -- and helps us discover -- the thought and philosophy behind Olmsted-designed parks, no matter how big or small. As a result, I walk through Central Park with an entirely different consciousness and appreciation of its gifts -- and that alone is makes this book worth reading.
This book is really well written; Justin Martin's style is so accessible and fun to read. I loved diving into important American history that wasn't so familiar.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a gift and my friend loved it. I'm hoping she passes back to me!Published 1 month ago by erwink617
i really enjoyed this book - my recent visit to Biltmore House prompted my purchasePublished 1 month ago by sjw
Loved it!!! Fascinating man! Incredible "genius". Intersting and so well written. Olmstead had so many varied careers. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jan Brennan
This is a very well told account of a man whom I have never known much about. I am very happy that I have been enlightened by his great works and this enjoyable read.Published 4 months ago by Jointman
Incredible life. Well researched. Would love to have learned more about Mary.Published 4 months ago by Rita Busick
A must read for history, and landscape architecture buffsPublished 4 months ago by Deborah Llewellyn
Excellent biography. Great story telling. Olmsted was an amazing man.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer