From Frederick Law Olmsted to Richard Neutra, Michelle Obama to our neighbors, Americans throughout history have revealed themselves in the gardens they create. Melding biography, history, and cultural commentary, American Eden presents a dynamic, sweeping, one-of-a-kind look at this country's landscapes and the visionaries behind them.
Monticello's gardens helped Jefferson reconcile his feelings about slavery. Edith Wharton's gardens made her feel more European. Isamu Noguchi's and Robert Smithson's experiments reinvigorated the age-old exchange between art and the garden. Manhattan's High Line park, reclaimed from freight train tracks, reimagined an urban landscape.
Moving deftly through time and place across America's diverse landscapes—from Revolutionary-era Virginia to turn-of-the-century Chicago to 1960s suburban California—and featuring an equally diverse cast of landscape-makers, whether artists, architects, housewives, robber barons, politicians, or dreamers, Wade Graham vividly unfolds the larger cultural history through more personal dramas.
Beautifully illustrated, American Eden is at once a different kind of garden book and a different kind of American history, one that offers a compelling, untold story that mirrors and illuminates our nation's invention—and constant reinvention—of itself.
Graham presents a sweeping social history of our nation's landscapes and the visionaries behind them, which offers an exciting new perspective--from the garden path--on the drama of American self-creation.read more
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From Jefferson's founding garden, Monticello, to Martha Stewart's Turkey Hill, American gardens have been revealing self-portraits that reflect their owners aspirations and anxieties, cultural legacies and passing fashions. In his far-ranging survey, designer and historian Graham unveils the aesthetic, political, psychological, and ethical dimensions of the American garden. This is a world in which hedges, lawns, parks, and cemeteries are revealing displays of national identity, class distinction, and political correctness. Our gardens are a pastiche of classical pastoral ideals, the 19th-century European grand tour, and the distinctly American tension between our democratic ideals and aristocratic pretensions. Graham is able to gently mock the fashions of history while astutely observing that we are still as vulnerable to gardening fads today. After more than 250 years, the American gardening tradition has bequeathed to us treasured public parks, suburban sprawl, Kentucky bluegrass lawns in the desert, and kitchen gardens at the White House. Graham's history is a fascinating and illuminating tour of this American landscape. Includes extensive notes and bibliography. More than 70 color and b&w illus. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.