Sunday, November 30, 2008

Invented Edens: Techno-Cities of the Twentieth Century
by Robert H. Kargon and Arthur P. Molella
The MIT Press

This is a neat little history of attempts to devise and build visions of the "techno-city," which the authors define as a combination of high technology and a version of nature embodied in the "garden city" of Ebenezer Howard at the turn of the 20th century.

After laying the theoretical foundation, from Howard to Patrick Geddes to Lewis Mumford and beyond, the authors examine examples from Fascist Italy, Communist Russia and the U.S., from the New Deal to the Cold War to Disney, in an interesting and useful overview that whets the appetite for more.

While I don't always agree with the authors' point of view and conclusions, the history is fascinating. While the book isn't profusely illustrated, the photos and drawings are well presented. This is a handsome, well-designed book that covers a lot of ground in relatively few pages, with an eye to keeping the reader absorbed as well as to its scholarly contributions.

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