Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape

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Overview

The National Mall in Washington, D.C., is “a great public space, as essential a part of the American landscape as the Grand Canyon,” according to architecture critic Paul Goldberger, but few realize how recent, fragile, and contested this achievement is.
In Monument Wars, Kirk Savage tells the Mall's engrossing story—its historic plan, the structures that populate its corridors, and the sea change it reveals regarding national representation. Central to this narrative is a dramatic shift from the nineteenth-century concept of a decentralized landscape, or “ground”-heroic statues spread out in traffic circles and picturesque parks-to the twentieth-century ideal of “space,” in which authority is concentrated in an intensified center, and the monument is transformed from an object of reverence to a space of experience. Savage's lively and intelligent analysis traces the refocusing of the monuments themselves, from that of a single man, often on horseback, to commemorations of common soldiers or citizens; and from monuments that celebrate victory and heroism to memorials honoring victims. An indispensable guide to the National Mall, Monument Wars provides a fresh and fascinating perspective on over two hundred years of American history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Superb study of monumental Washington"—Washington Post Book World

"A fascinating book."—H-Net Reviews

"The book will make you go back to the National Mall, but you'll never again see it in quite the same light. "—Washington Post Book World

"An indispensable guide to the National Mall."—Public Art Review

Washington Post Book World
“The book will make you go back to the National Mall, but you'll never again see it in quite the same light. “
H-Net Reviews
“A fascinating book.”
Public Art Review
“An indispensable guide to the National Mall.”
Jonathan Yardley
…[a] superb study of monumental Washington
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520256545
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 11/2/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 390
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Kirk Savage is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction
1. A Monument to a Deceased Project
2. Covering Ground
3. The Mechanic Monster
4.
Inventing Public Space
5. The Monument Transformed
6. The Conscience of the Nation
7. An End to War, an End to Monuments?
Notes
Selected Bibliography
List of Illustrations

Index

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