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The Lewis Mumford Reader Paperback – October 12, 1986


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The great architectural critic, historian, and urban planner Lewis Mumford (1895-1990) was no uncritical fan of city life, although most of his own days were spent in and around New York. Taking a long view of human history, he determined that the mechanization and materialism on which cities thrived were agents of alienation, and that most of the inventions of modern times were at root just shoddy gewgaws. Writing in The New Yorker and other journals, he praised the better aspects of the metropolis--the stunning beauty, for instance, of the Brooklyn Bridge--arguing always that technology ought to serve one overarching end, namely "the continued growth of human personalities and the cultivation of the best life possible."

Mumford wrote more than 30 books and thousands of essays and articles, of which only a small but nicely representative sampling is included in this anthology of his work. Some of the ideas the reader will encounter are scarcely more than pet peeves (Mumford complains, for instance, that for all our technological sophistication our designers can't get the height of a toilet right); others, pointing the way toward the ideal city and a healthy relationship between the metropolis and the surrounding countryside, shimmer like great intellectual cathedrals.

For readers seeking an introduction to Mumford's work and thought, this book fills the bill exactly. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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