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Mill: The History and Future of Naturally Powered Buildings Hardcover – December 15, 2000
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Right from the start, in the introduction to the book, I was unhappily surprised by the text which often seemed to me to be confusing substantively and awkwardly constructed. To take one example: "What was once a common occurrence is now rare, but a number of these stout buildings remain in what were strategic and active spots on stream banks and hillocks, some working, some with a new life as a home or office, some as picturesque ruins, and importantly, a growing number restored as plain country mills as interpretative museums--indicators of the growing interest in their history and technology with an eye perhaps toward their relevance as sustainable users of natural power." Although Mr. Larkin's writing improves as the book proceeds, I also found as I read through the text that many technical details pertaining to the actual working of the mills described in this volume were inadequately presented. So that it was difficult to follow these descriptions and come away with a clear understanding of the functioning of the mechanisms under discussion. Which was a pity given my desire to absorb and revel in this most intriguing subject matter!
On the positive side, the many splendid photographs contained in "Mill--The History And Future Of Naturally Powered Buildings" provide a wonderful introduction to the architecture of mill construction and a lovingly documented excursion into the rural landscape where these highly functional buildings operated, often for scores of years at a stretch. So it is for the visual presentation that I can strongly recommend this volume. Even though the book could have been so much more, it still offers a great deal to the reader with an interest in a world which is quickly disappearing from our view and, unfortunately to my mind, our consciousness.