IF THIS HOUSE COULD TALK...: Historic Homes, Extraordinary Americans

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9780684839318: IF THIS HOUSE COULD TALK...: Historic Homes, Extraordinary Americans
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A history of the nation through its home architecture features twenty-seven American homes, from an Alaskan clan house to Robert Frost's Derry Farm, exploring the history, culture, politics, and ideas that shaped the people who lived in each.

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Review:

"Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home." The buildings profiled in If This House Could Talk may not all be humble (Hearst Castle, Auldbrass Plantation, 'Iolani Palace), but at some point in their history, they all were called home. And though these are not "treasure houses" in the traditional sense, these places are true treasures. Elizabeth Smith Brownstein takes us on a tour of 28 homes, from a former royal palace to a New York tenement, from a bachelor's mansion to a writer's cottage, and a 17th-century homestead to a visionary house of the future. Brownstein looks at each home in turn, telling the story of its inhabitants--some famous (Abraham Lincoln, James Madison, Eleanor Roosevelt), some not-so-famous (John Parker, Janet Sherlock Smith, Max Mason). These stories, taken together, create a colorful--if patchy--picture of American history. The tiny bedrooms, paper-thin walls, and lack of plumbing and fresh air in the tenement at 97 Orchard Street in New York tell more about the 19th-century immigrant experience than do most history books, while the huge expanse of Biltmore highlights just how wealthy some 19th-century Americans had become. Scholarly architectural historians will find little new here, but general readers will be entranced by the dozens of photographs and Brownstein's clear love of her subject. A thoughtful gift for history and architecture buffs. --Sunny Delaney

About the Author:

A graduate of Wellesley College and The London School of Economics, Elizabeth Smith Brownstein is a researcher, writer, and producer of cultural documentaries and public affairs programs. She is a member of the Society of Women Geographers and the National Press Club and a former president of the American Friends of The London School of Economics. Researching this book allowed her to indulge her lifelong passion for travel and adventure. Her home base is Washington, D.C.

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Brownstein,, Elizabeth Smith
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