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

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“An exceptional book, Monument Wars is impressive in just about every way. It is an indispensable guide to the National Mall and establishes Savage as one of the foremost historians of American art now working.”—Alexander Nemerov, Yale University

Monument Wars is the best single work I've read on the idea of the 'monument' in American culture, the best single analysis and history of Washington's shrines. In his rich and riveting analyses of the Washington Mall, Kirk Savage brilliantly re-animates its monuments with the stories of their often fraught and contentious origins. This is also a philosophical treatise on the paradox of lively American democratic ideals as they find fixed form in stone and mortar. Monument Wars is an outstanding achievement.”—James E. Young, author of The Texture of Memory and At Memory's Edge

“No one does art history and the history of memory as sublimely as Kirk Savage. In this book of extraordinary research and widely accessible prose, Savage brilliantly shows how America's most sacred and visible public space has evolved. He also demonstrates how the Washington Mall has become, for Americans, the preeminent space where the very idea of a monument has constantly changed. And above all, Savage writes with deep sensitivity about the sometimes tortured, always fascinating politics of national memory. The Mall appears monumentally fixed. But after reading Savage, no one will be able to gaze upon its stunning vistas without realizing that it is a turbulent, unsteady story of how a republic memorializes itself.”—David W. Blight, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory

“Kirk Savage maps Washington's ubiquitous monuments within the symbolic cityscape fashioned by the city's planners and rulers, creating a luminous, insightful record of our national political enthusiasms and obsessions. At once an art history of monuments and a landscape history of political theater, Monument Wars is a worthy successor to Savage's classic Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves.”—Dell Upton, University of California, Los Angeles

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Editorial Reviews

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
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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520271333
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 7/11/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 402
  • Sales rank: 569,314
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (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

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?
Selected Bibliography
List of Illustrations
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