The Man in the Glass House: Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century Audio CD – CD, June 25, 2019
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"[A] brisk, clear-eyed new biography."-- "New Yorker"
"A biography that is as much literary as critical achievement. Required reading for anyone hoping to make sense of the American century, for Johnson was its house architect."-- "Christopher Hawthorne, chief design officer for the city of Los Angeles and former architecture critic of the Los Angeles Times"
"A biography with attitude, a bullet train through the shifting landscapes of twentieth-century America, and a sheer pleasure to read."-- "Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do"
"A fresh look at [Johnson's] less-than-savory aspects, Lamster portrays a diffident genius for whom being boring was the greatest crime."-- "Kirkus (starred review)"
"A vivid, thoughtful, illuminating, disturbing, and definitive chronicle of one of twentieth-century architecture's most celebrated and powerful figures."-- "Kurt Andersen, author and host of Studio 360"
"In this compelling biography, Mark Lamster deconstructs Johnson's complex persona, evaluates his work and begins the complex process of establishing his place in history."-- "Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and author of Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry"
"In Mark Lamster's nuanced telling, Johnson...becomes a symbol of America itself. This is biography as history, and it is a magnificent piece of work."-- "David L. Ulin, author of Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles"
"Johnson was a fascinating and disturbing figure; Lamster's biography, impressively and honestly, displays him with his full complexity."-- "Ruth Franklin, author of Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life"
"Lamster's mesmerizing, authoritative, and often-astonishing study grapples with Johnson's legacy in all its ambiguity...[A] masterful achievement."-- "Booklist (starred review)"
"Smoothly written and fair-minded...[A] searching and thorough overview of Johnson's engrossing life."-- "Wall Street Journal"
About the Author
Mark Lamster is the architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News and a professor in the architecture school at the University of Texas at Arlington. In 2017, he was a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. A native of New York City, he now lives with his family in Dallas.
- Publisher : Blackstone Audio; Unabridged AUDIO edition (June 25, 2019)
- Language: : English
- Audio CD : 1 pages
- ISBN-10 : 198266357X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1982663575
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.6 x 1.8 x 6.1 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #11,860,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Lamster's biography of Philip Johnson was the first since Franz Schulze's, "Philip Johnson: Life and Work", which was published in 1996. That book was an excellent look at Johnson's life but maybe the final bio couldn't be written until after Johnson's death in 2005.
Philip Johnson was born to wealthy parents in Cleveland. He and his sisters enjoyed European cultural trips and a high-style of life. He entered Harvard at a young age but took seven years to complete his degree. Given his inheritance years before this parents' deaths (there was something murky about Homer Johnson's finances at the time...), he lived the life of an aesthete at college and ever after. He really did not need to work, but he found his interests were almost totally on architecture - both its history and its practice. Johnson spent his young adulthood making his way
learning how architecture has influenced the world. It was during the 1930's that Johnson was enraptured by Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. He came out of his infatuation, but the term Nazi-lover followed him throughout his life.
Mark Lamster's biography is a complete view of Johnson's life. He doesn't try to downplay Johnson's more egregious societal beliefs but does balance those out with how they affected his life and work. If you read and enjoyed Franz Schulze's biography of Philip Johnson, I think you'll enjoy Lamster's book.
The author is great when he relaxes into caustic. "In going ahead with that project, the trustees altered the very nature of their institution while hamstringing their ability to remake it in the future."
When the televangelist Robert Schuller turned to Johnson to design the Crystal Cathedral he asked a member of the first "Do you think I will have a spiritual experience with Johnson?" Johnson feigned piety, but the two proved a good good match -- "two kindred spirits, a pair of natural salesmen with a shared ambition to build on a grand scale inspiration through architecture."
The New York art/architecture world was pretty small and the interactions were both personal and institutional. Fascinating and a great read. It could have used better photo plates, although the buildings are probably all online.
Top reviews from other countries
Mark Lamster captures Johnson's complexity brilliantly. This is an elegant account of a vain and privileged man - a man characterized above all by an unerring instinct for self redemption. Highly recommended!