Monday, March 18, 2019

Santiago Calatrava

Santiago Calatrava: Drawing, Building, Reflecting
Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz, Santiago Calatrava
Thames & Hudson, November 2018



Hardcover | 7-1/2 x 10-1/4 inches | 224 pages | 300 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-0500343418 | $45.00

Publisher Description:
Santiago Calatrava is an intimate insight into one of the world’s most celebrated architects. Calatrava first made a name for himself in the late 1980s, with delicately designed structures in Zürich that seem to grow out of the earth. He went on to create a series of highly innovative, iconic bridges across Europe and, in recent years, has drawn attention for such large-scale projects as the City of Arts and Sciences in his birth town of Valencia, Spain, and the World Transportation Hub at Ground Zero in New York.

Written in the first person and accompanied by a wealth of sketches never seen outside Calatrava’s studio, this book reveals the breadth of his influences, and how they have combined with his background in engineering and architecture to inspire his signature buildings. Moving beyond a documentation of Calatrava’s architectural output, this book offers a rare opportunity for readers to explore the creative process of one of the world’s great architects. In this heartfelt memoir of an architect of singular conviction, Calatrava’s inspirations, lessons, and achievements will touch every reader, whether aspiring architect or lover of art and nature.
dDAB Commentary:
If this book really is an "intimate insight" into Santiago Calatrava, the Spanish architect/engineer is a man out of time. Even though his famous bridges, train stations, and other buildings require cutting-edge technologies, especially in regards to steel construction, Calatrava asserts that "technique and technology should never be goals in themselves, but merely supports in our efforts to create poetic structures." Striving for the poetic finds Calatrava defining his structures as art and finding inspiration in artists from centuries ago: Alberti, Bach, Beethoven, Rodin, Shakespeare, and Vitruvius. By seeing architecture and engineering as art and aligning his design approach with such names as these, Calatrava comes across as old-fashioned, eschewing the social concerns and other considerations that are preoccupying younger designers today. Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz's text, written in the first person from Calatrava's viewpoint (like Studs Terkel's books), reiterates the myth of architect as sole genius, an outdated notion but one that necessarily comes with the "starchitect" label.

The most rewarding aspect of Santiago Calatrava is the drawings. No wonder it's the first word in the book's subtitle: Minus the occasional photograph and rendering, the book is wall-to-wall drawings. These range from sketches drawn from nature or the human body to watercolors that approach the finished buildings. Clearly Calatrava has a skilled hand; this comes from drawing every day of his working life but also from his "first vocation": painting. Before he was educated in architecture and engineering in Spain and Switzerland, respectively, Calatrava painted, learning to see and learn from nature and the human body. To this day he finds inspiration in parts of the body, the structure of creatures, and the forms of nature. And to this day he sees himself as an artist, one who combines architecture and engineering (two different fields that Calatrava sees as one) to create structures that are his alone.
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz is an art curator, critic, and author who has authored and coauthored a number of books on leading artists and architects, including Ai Weiwei. Santiago Calatrava is an internationally celebrated Spanish architect, structural engineer, sculptor, and painter.
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Sunday, March 17, 2019

The International Style

The International Style
Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Philip Johnson
W. W. Norton, June 1995



Hardcover/Paperback | 6-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches | 269 pages | English | ISBN: 978-0393315189 (PB) | $22.95 (PB)

Publisher Description:
Initially produced as the catalog to accompany a controversial and groundbreaking 1932 Museum of Modern Art show of the then new architecture emerging in Europe and America, The International Style quickly became the definitive statement of the principles underlying the work of such giants as Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and other pioneers. It might be said that Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson discovered as well as defined "the International Style," and over the decades their book has served as both a flashpoint for criticism and a frame for growth in the architectural profession. It has never been out of print in over sixty years.

This new edition has been completely redesigned and reset, and it features a new foreword by Philip Johnson, who reflects on the legacy of the International Style and examines the still-precarious power of architecture in our public life.
dDAB Commentary:
Published as a companion to Modern Architecture: International Exhibition, the 1932 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, The International Style brought modern architecture, a European phenomenon, stateside. The exhibition and book came seven years after International Architecture, which was edited by Walter Gropius at the Bauhaus: an architect and design school that defined the "style" that Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson would embrace and promote. The earlier book presents photos and drawings of buildings by Gropius, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and other European architects, and the MoMA curators basically did the same, focusing on form over substance, appearance over function, style over social concerns. In terms of publications, The International Style has held sway much longer than International Architecture. The latter was reprinted this year, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus's founding, while The International Style received two later editions following its original publication: in 1966 and in 1995, the latter of which I bought for a history of modern architecture class in college the same year and am most familiar with. (The spreads below do not reflect this most recent edition.)

By 1995, the lasting influence of The International Style was not only well-established, it was repeated in the 1988 Deconstructivist Architecture exhibition by none other than Philip Johnson (with Mark Wigley). Each exhibition and companion publication aimed to define a style that captured the zeitgeist by focusing on form and appearance. Johnson and Hitchcock defined three traits of what they called the "international style" but what is commonly known just as "modern architecture": Architecture as Volume, rather than architecture as mass, arising from steel framing; Concerning Regularity, on the articulation of windows in exterior walls free from the role of structural support; and The Avoidance of Applied Decoration, a self-explanatory phrase. These are important aspects of what Gropius and other European architects were doing in the 1920s and 30s, but there was more to their buildings than just structure and surface. No matter, as MoMA's traits would come to define modern architecture and supplant any deeper concerns for the social repercussions that arose from the conflicts, technological changes, and economic shifts that dramatically changed the world a century ago.
Spreads (from MoMA PDF of 1932 book):


Author Bio:
Henry-Russell Hitchcock (1903–1987), architectural historian, was Sophia Smith Professor of Art at Smith College and author of many works on architects and architecture. Philip Johnson (1906-2005) was a Trustee of the Museum of Modern Art, and a fellow of both The American Institute of Architects and The American Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1978 he received the Gold Medal from the AIA, and in 1979 the first Pritzker Architecture Prize.
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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Spring 2019 Walking Tours

It's less than a week until spring, which means my walking tours are starting up again. I have a few scheduled with the 92Y, listed below. Additionally I've created a static Walking Tours page where I will maintain a list of upcoming walking tours. That page can be found from the top menu on this blog. Click link for tickets or visit that page for more information on the below tours.

Saturday, March 30, 2019 - 11am-2:30pm
Architectural Tour of Brooklyn via the G Train

Saturday, April 13, 2019 - 11am-1:30pm
Architectural Tour of Pedestrian Lower Manhattan

Saturday, May 4, 2019 - 11am-1:30pm
Architectural Tour of the High Line and Its Environs

Thursday, March 14, 2019

International Architecture

International Architecture: Bauhausbücher 1
Walter Gropius (Editor)
Lars Müller Publishers, March 2019



Hardcover | 7 x 9 inches | 108 pages | 100 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-3037785843 | $45.00

Publisher Description:
When the Bauhaus moved to Dessau in 1924, it was finally possible to publish the first of the Bauhausbücher that Walter Gropius (1883–1969) and Làszlò Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946) had first conceived of in Weimar. The series was intended to give insight into the teachings of the Bauhaus and the possibilities it offered for incorporating modern design into everyday aspects of an ever-more-modern world. First in the series was Gropius’ International Architecture, an overview of the modern architecture of the mid-1920s and an early attempt to articulate what would come to be known as International Style architecture. In a brief preface, Gropius summarized the guiding principles he identified uniting the avant-garde around the world. But the real thrust of the book is visual, with an extensive illustrated section showing buildings in Europe and the Americas. According to Gropius, these illustrations show the “development of a consistent worldview” that dispensed with the prior decorative role of architecture and expressed itself in a new language of exactitude, functionality and geometry.

Published for the first time in English, this new edition of the first of the Bauhausbücher is accompanied by a brief scholarly commentary. Presented in a design true to Moholy-Nagy’s original,
International Architecture offers readers the opportunity to explore the Bauhaus’ aesthetic and its place in the world as Gropius himself was trying to define them.
dDAB Commentary:
Between 1925 and 1930, the Bauhaus put out 14 of a planned 54 titles in the Bauhausbücher series edited by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius and photographer László Moholy-Nagy. Derailed by the turmoil in Europe leading up to WWII, the books that were printed were snapped up quickly and are now difficult to find. Swiss publisher Lars Müller is gradually making the fourteen titles available again "in a form true to the originals," but in English. First in the original series was Gropius's International Architecture, whose reprint comes out next week, a couple weeks before the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus Weimar. Centennial celebrations are rampant in Germany, and reprints like International Architecture and Bauhaus Journal 1926-1931 extend the reach of those celebrations all over the world – a world transformed by the principles developed at the short-lived school (1919-1933).

International Architecture is a short book, with a four-page introduction by Gropius and 100 pages of photographs and drawings of "ever more daring design[s]" by the likes of Peter Behrens, Erich Mendelsohn, Bruno Taut, Frank Lloyd Wright, and of course Gropius himself. Given that it's nearly a century since original publication, most of the projects are well known. So, not surprisingly, the handsome hardcover reprint is most valuable as a historical artifact. Nevertheless it's a treat to flip through. With two images per spread – sometimes showing the same project but often two different projects – it's easy to make comparisons; and it's clear that Gropius considered the juxtaposition of images, be it in terms of visual composition, typology, materials, or other traits. (This tactic is still in use today, with such books as Modern Spaces.) Five of the 100 illustrations present designs for the Chicago Tribune in 1922, highlighting Gropius's famous scheme and three other modern designs that were passed over for the neo-Gothic winner. What may have seemed like the failure of modern design versus traditional design turned out to be a slight hiccup in Modernism's ascension courtesy of the Bauhaus.
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Walter Gropius (1883-1969) was a German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School, who ... is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modernist architecture. Gropius was also a leading architect of the International Style.
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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Venice Variations

The Venice Variations: Tracing the Architectural Imagination
Sophia Psarra
UCL Press, April 2018



Hardcover/Paperback | 6 x 9 inches | 322 pages | 140 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978‑1787352407 (PB) | £22.99 (PB)

Publisher Description:
From the myth of Arcadia through to the twenty-first century, ideas about sustainability – how we imagine better urban environments – remain persistently relevant, and raise recurring questions. How do cities evolve as complex spaces nurturing both urban creativity and the fortuitous art of discovery, and by which mechanisms do they foster imagination and innovation? While past utopias were conceived in terms of an ideal geometry, contemporary exemplary models of urban design seek technological solutions of optimal organization. The Venice Variations explores Venice as a prototypical city that may hold unique answers to the ancient narrative of utopia. Venice was not the result of a preconceived ideal but the pragmatic outcome of social and economic networks of communication. Its urban creativity, though, came to represent the quintessential combination of place and institutions of its time.

Through a discussion of Venice and two other works owing their inspiration to this city – Italo Calvino’s
Invisible Cities and Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital – Sophia Psarra describes Venice as a system that starts to resemble a highly probabilistic ‘algorithm’. The rapidly escalating processes of urban development around our big cities share many of the motivations for survival, shelter and trade that brought Venice into existence. Rather than seeing these places as problems to be solved, we need to understand how urban complexity can evolve, as happened from its unprepossessing origins in the marshes of the Venetian lagoon to the ‘model city’ enduring a 1000 years. This book frees Venice from stereotypical representations, revealing its generative capacity to inform potential other ‘Venices’ for the future.
dDAB Commentary:
At the back of The Venice Variations, like any scholarly text, is a multi-page bibliography -- eleven pages to be precise. Nearly one full page of them is filled with books and articles by Professor Bill Hillier, "the original pioneer of the methods for the analysis of spatial patterns known as 'space syntax'." Although I have a copy of The Social Logic of Space, which Hillier wrote in the early 1980s with Julienne Hanson, I have not yet waded through it. Regardless, I can gleam from a quick flip through the dense book that Hillier's idea of "space syntax" relies on mathematics and diagramming for quantifying and analyzing space, something traditionally highly qualitative. The same is evident in Sophia Psarra's The Venice Variations, which is full of colorful maps and diagrams on Venice, Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, and Le Corbusier's unrealized design for the Venice Hospital.

Besides the introduction and the last chapter (a synthesis of the book's main ideas and arguments), the book consists primarily of four main chapters. Two of them focus on Venice -- the first on the "authorless" morphology of the most unique city in the world and the second on such architectural creations as Piazza San Marco and Palladio's churches on Guidecca and San Giorgio Maggiore -- while the other two tackle Calvino's book and Le Corbusier's design. It's in the first chapter where we encounter Hillier's analysis of London's "measure of choice" at two different scales; these diagrams obviously informed Psarra's maps (second spread below) that depict Venice's canals and pedestrian networks in terms of choice (a gradient from blue to red, from low choice to high choice). Psarra also measures "integration," or "closeness centrality" (a trait defined by Hillier and Hanson in their book), which is the ease of, for instance, getting to Piazza San Marco from other parts of Venice. Later she applies the same levels of integration to the piazza itself and Le Corbusier's hospital design. Needless to say, The Venice Variations, while a scholarly text that requires some close reading, is a visual treat that is made more accessible and meaningful through the diagrams. Unfortunately, most of the diagrams are too small on the page. It felt like reading the revised edition of Learning from Las Vegas when I would have rather been reading the larger first edition. No such large format version exists for Psarra's book, but a free PDF download (via the publisher's website) does enable people to zoom in and get more clarity on her visual argument.
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Sophia Psarra is Reader at the Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL). Her research addresses spatial, social, historical, cognitive and organizational dimensions in cities and architecture. Her activities have resulted in creative installations, design projects and publications.
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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Reminder: Book Talk Thursday at Rizzoli

My new book, NYC Walks: Guide to New Architecture, is out today!

Published by Prestel, NYC Walks collects ten architectural walking tours I've been giving for the last half-dozen years. To celebrate the release of NYC Walks I'll be in conversation with Michael Sorkin at Rizzoli Bookstore (1133 Broadway at West 26th Street) on Thursday, March 14 at 6pm. I'll be signing books after the talk. The event is free, but be sure to RSVP via this link.



Details on the March 14 event:
Join author, architect, and tour guide John Hill for a discussion with esteemed architecture critic and urbanist Michael Sorkin about his new book NYC Walks: Guide to New Architecture (Prestel, 2019).

It can be hard to keep up with New York City’s surge of cutting-edge architecture since the turn of the millennium. NYC Walks is a portable, easy-to-use guide to the city’s newest architectural gems, all completed in the 21st century with some still under construction.

Divided into ten 1- to 3-mile walks that extend from Columbia University through lower Manhattan and across to Brooklyn and Queens, this guidebook highlights over 150 buildings—from popular destinations like the High Line and Lincoln Center to trendy locations such as Boerum Hill and the Bowery. Led by author John Hill, these then tours are highly informative, engaging, and filled with fascinating insights and details.

John Hill is an architect, editor-in-chief of World-Architects.com magazine, and founder of the blog Daily Dose of Architecture. He is a licensed New York City sightseeing guide who has led architectural walking tours in the city for many years. In addition to NYC Walks, he is the author of Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture and 100 Years, 100 Buildings.

Michael Sorkin is President of Terreform, a non-profit urban research and advocacy center and publisher of UR Books, Principal of Michael Sorkin Studio, an international design practice with a focus on urbanism and “green” architecture, Distinguished Professor of Architecture and Director of the Graduate Program in Urban Design at the CCNY, and author or editor of more than twenty books, including What Goes Up: The Right and Wrongs to the City (2018) and Twenty Minutes in Manhattan (2013).

NYC Walks – Out Today!

NYC Walks: Guide to New Architecture
John Hill, with photographs by Pavel Bendov
Prestel, March 2019



Paperback | 5-1/4 x 9-1/4 inches | 224 pages | # illustrations | Languages | ISBN: 978-3791384900 | $19.95

Publisher Description:
It can be hard to keep up with New York City’s surge of cutting-edge architecture since the turn of the millennium. This portable, easy-to-use guide directs readers to the city’s newest architectural gems, all completed in the 21st century with some still under construction. Divided into ten 1- to 3-mile walks that extend from Columbia University through lower Manhattan and across to Brooklyn and Queens, this guidebook highlights over 150 buildings, popular destinations like the High Line and Lincoln Center, and trendy locations such as Boerum Hill and the Bowery. Led by author John Hill, these tours are highly informative, engaging, and filled with fascinating insights and details. Maps and numerous photographs make this guide the perfect companion for anyone visiting New York City, architecture buffs, and those wishing to better know the city they call home.
dDAB Commentary:
I wrote this book, so instead of my usual commentary in the form of a review I'll give some background on the book and explain what I hoped to accomplish with it. NYC Walks presents ten architectural walking tours I've been giving since the release of my first book, Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture. That book came out at the end of 2011 and in early 2012 I was invited to give some tours at Van Alen Books. Those tours started at the since-shuttered store on West 22nd Street and headed to the High Line (then just two of its three phases were open) and other nearby areas. I'll admit I never anticipated giving walking tours when I was writing that book, but I really liked designing the tours -- figuring out their routes, the buildings and landscapes to look at, and what to say about them -- and grew to like giving them (like most modern-day humans I wasn't so big on public speaking at the time); I also think walking is one of the best ways to see a city.

Following the tours with Van Alen Books, I started giving tours with 92Y Tribeca, which at first were limited to below 34th Street; but they didn't require starting at their location on Hudson Street so I had more freedom for tour routing. In addition to the High Line tour I developed tours on the Bowery, in Lower Manhattan, and in Brooklyn. In 2013 the 92Y Tribeca shuttered (I'm sensing a pattern) so started giving tours with the 92nd Y's main Upper East Side location; this allowed me to design tours in Midtown and above, including Queens, the borough I call home. Over those six years, from early 2012 until I handed in the manuscript for NYC Walks in early 2018, I developed more than a dozen tours and selected eight of them for the book; I developed two new tours for the book but in the meantime have given them to patrons of the 92nd Y and other institutions I offer the tours through.

When I pitched the idea for a book of my architectural walking tours to Prestel, my intentions were twofold: write a book for which nearly all of the research was already done (my two other books with Prestel involved a good deal of research taking place over a short amount of time) and do an update of sorts to my 2011 guidebook. The ten tours I selected trace parts of the city with a density of new architecture, including many notable buildings completed since 2012. My Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture was written in 2009/2010, a downtime for myself and most in the architecture field. But in the ensuing years the pre-2008 building boom resumed, especially in residential buildings, educational facilities, and in parts of the city rezoned by the Bloomberg administration.

If Guide takes stock of the first two terms of Bloomberg's three-term tenure, NYC Walks looks at the lasting impact of the administration's initiatives, be it mega-projects such as Hudson Yards, Columbia's Manhattanville campus, and Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards (now Pacific Park) or the fine-grained efforts of DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, among other things. I admit in the new book's introduction that Bill de Blasio's administration is pretty lackluster relative to Bloomberg. Our current mayor is pretty indifferent to the city's built environment, focusing on affordable housing, rezoning areas like East New York and Far Rockaway, and taking credit for the Bloomberg-initiated East Midtown rezoning, which will see the tallest-ever intentional demolition, at 270 Park Avenue. Needless to say, de Blasio's record on architecture and planning is jumbled, lacking the focus of Bloomberg, who transformed New York into a city-sized playground for the global rich. One thing de Blasio did was reduce the price of the ferries started by Bloomberg and expand the routes up and down the East River; in turn, I created a tour that starts it Manhattan and then moves to Queens and Roosevelt Island.

Accompanying my tours are photographs by Pavel Bendov, whose New Architecture New York was published by Prestel in 2017. He provided some photos from that book and took new ones for mine; they made the process a lot easier (obtaining photos isn't fun!) and the book great to look at. NYC Walks also has maps produced by AHL&CO, who handled the design of the book. The spreads below should convey the qualities of this, my fifth book, and make you want to buy it -- and go for a walk!
Spreads:


Author Bio:
John Hill is editor-in-chief of international e-magazine World-Architects.com and founder of the blog A Daily Dose of Architecture. He is the author of 100 Years, 100 Buildings and 100 Years, 100 Landscape Designs (both by Prestel). He lives in New York City.
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Monday, March 11, 2019

Edge of Order

Edge of Order
Daniel Libeskind with Tim McKeough
Clarkson Potter, November 2018



Hardcover | 10-1/4 x 12-1/4 inches | 320 pages | English | ISBN: 978-0451497352 | $80.00

Publisher Description:
As one of the foremost architects of our time, Daniel Libeskind has spent his career challenging both the constraints of corporate architecture and the conventions of academia. With a decades-long history of provocative designs, he is now known globally for such landmarks as the Jewish Museum Berlin and the World Trade Center Master Plan, among more than forty projects completed and another forty-five in progress. His latest project, brilliantly reflective of his guiding philosophies, is EDGE OF ORDER.
dDAB Commentary:
Daniel Libeskind's career is defined by two projects: the Jewish Museum Berlin (1989-2001) and the World Trade Center Masterplan (2003). In both cases the Polish-born architect won competitions for projects that would take more than a decade to realize. The differences, relevant in the case of his new monograph, have to do with the man himself. Libeskind was relatively unknown in 1989 when he was named the architect of what was then the Jewish Department of the Berlin Museum, although his inclusion in the Deconstructivist Architecture exhibition at MoMA the year before helped change that. Up to that point he was known as a "paper architect" -- one who drew rather than built -- and a fairly esoteric wordsmith. By the time he won the WTC masterplan more than a dozen years later, Libeskind -- with his wife Nina as a business partner -- had carried out other projects to completion and figured out how to verbalize his architecture to a more general audience (his biography, Breaking Ground, is one part of that. By 2003, Libeskind had effectively become a brand with a recognizable style and face.

Although Libeskind's design for the WTC site exhibited his distinctive angles, cuts, and occasional curves, none of those forms would make their way into the now nearly completed design, where other architects provided their own stamps on the 16-acre project. Regardless, Studio Libeskind was in high demand after the win, working on developer projects in places like Singapore, rather than just Jewish Museum-related cultural projects and monuments, of which there were plenty in the decade and a half between the two career-defining projects. Edge of Order presents 18 projects by Studio Libeskind across seven chapters (the projects are not listed in the table of contents, nor is there an index, so one finds them in the process of reading the book) plus a handful of "explorations" that allow more projects to be briefly presented. With conversational texts à la Breaking Ground, the new monograph provides accessible glimpses into Libeskind's points of view and working methods. Tying together the texts (done with Tim McKeough) and projects is the graphic design by Rodrigo Corral Studio. From the large type size to the blocks of color and plethora of images, the book's design wants to do visually what Libeskind does with his words: making his architecture accessible to a wider audience. But at times the graphic design overpowers the subject (e.g. color forms overlaid on photographs), making the design compete with the content rather than enrich it.
Spreads:


Author Bio:
Daniel Libeskind is the founder and principal of Studio Daniel Libeskind in New York City and an international figure in architecture and urban design. Tim McKeough is an architecture and design writer based in New York City.
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