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Pulitzer Prize-winner Huxtable (Frank Lloyd Wright)-architecture critic for the Wall Street Journal and formerly for the New York Times-presents her penetrating and tough-minded criticism spanning half a century, including several pieces never before published. Centering largely on modernism, its masters and "its discontents," the volume opens with an overview of the past four decades, including startlingly powerful pieces on the late '60s urban decay and the '90s reinvention of architecture by Alvaro Siza, Frank Gehry and Christian de Portzamparc. Subsequent sections cover such architectural icons as the new Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris ("the most awesomely perverse building I have ever seen") and the new MoMA (where "there is no repose"). Huxtable's highly influential essays on the cultural history of the skyscraper and the World Trade Center site are remarkable. Three charming, short pieces on the critic's personal landmarks, from the Beaux Arts building she grew up in to the Colt Firearms Building near Hartford, Conn., conclude this collection of learned analyses, fluent and exuberant. 25 b&w illus. (Nov.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.