- Series: Window Seat
- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Chronicle Books (March 1, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0811840867
- ISBN-13: 978-0811840866
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #762,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Window Seat: Reading the Landscape from the Air Paperback – March 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Aiming to educate air passengers about the structures and topography they spot out their windows during flights over North America, Dicum, who chronicled the coffee industry in 1999's Coffee Book, also entertains. Instead of organizing the book by well-traveled routes (New York to L.A., for example), he divides America and Canada into regions (the Great Plains, the Mid-Atlantic) and describes the landforms, water formations and human features endemic to each area, with sidebars on how to spot such entities as urban sprawl, interstate highways and federal land. Satellite images taken miles higher than the typical flight's altitude of 35,000 feet illustrate what readers are likely to see from their window seat. In the chapter on Texas, for example, Dicum uses satellite photos to explain how to identify oil wells, the border with Mexico, and Hill Country towns settled by Germans, who arranged their New World communities just as they had in Europe, with the main street parallel to a river. In an easy, cogent style, Dicum answers questions curious flyers may have wondered but never understood, like why some farmland is arranged in squares and some in perfect circles. He manages to wrest fascinating cultural significance from quotidian details (e.g., the bizarre land shapes in the rural South result from the postâ"Civil War government's attempts at land redistribution). Compulsively readable, the guidebook is composed of both handy factual information as well as deeper lessons about North America and its inhabitants. 70 color photos, 25 line drawings.
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About the Author
Gregory Dicum is a San Francisco-based writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine , Harper's , HotWired , New York Magazine , Travel & Leisure , and others.
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I did thumb through this book at a bookstore and bought it instantly. The satellite photos along with descriptions seem very helpful for interpreting landscapes from the air although I have not yet taken it on a flight.
It is not a technical book and would be suitable for intelligent teenagers, but unless you can already identify and explain moraines, eskers, drumlins, kettle ponds, and spillways and understand how 100,000 years of glacial action formed the lowland landscapes we see from the air, you will probably find this book educational as well as enjoyable. (The book will of course offer only a first introduction to these and similar matters.) The photos themselves are worth the price of the book.
(If you really love aerial photography, consider also getting a book such as EARTH FROM ABOVE by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, which is beautiful, educational, and more expensive.)
After reading this book, I found it was easier to correctly identify different cities and towns from upwards to 30,000 feet by knowing to look for particular landmarks that are known to everyone. I also found out that this land that we live in is much more beautiful than we could ever expect to know without being in an airplane on a trip to some destination.
It is very well worth the expense to purchase and read, especially if you do a lot of flying, because you can start putting the what you have read to immediate use once you are airborne.