In this extraordinary interpretation of Western architecture, Harbison (architecture, London Metropolitan Univ.; Reflections on Baroque), a well-traveled and exceptionally knowledgeable English architectural historian, begins with Egyptian architecture; continues with Greek, Roman, Byzantine, medieval, Renaissance, and baroque; and ends with three chapters on 19th-century, modern, and postmodern architecture. Harbison relays his opinions, which are captivating, direct, and personal, on individual buildings. He approaches this history with the philosophy of New Criticism in mind, considering each building with an "innocent eye" and "the fresh vision of the child in [him]self." VERDICT This book could serve as a secondary survey of Western architecture for architecture students, professionals, and devotees, although more maps, plans, and pictures of individual regions and monuments would have been useful. Harbison's expression of his personal and professional views is unbelievably shattering and breathtaking; he has the capacity to alter the entire history of Western architecture for 100 years to come.—Peter S. Kaufman, Boston Architectural Ctr.
Peter S. Kaufman