This spatial but penetrating perspective of ""Four Centuries of Architecture and Furniture as Cultural Expression"" is a synthesis of our social, political and economic experience as it is reflected in everyday life, in our buildings, our homes, our interiors. Interpreting the many traditions (meaning both form and spirit) which have shaped the patterns of architectural and furniture design from century to century, Professor Gowans indicates what was- until recently- usually borrowed to begin with but what also becomes essentially American through adaptation. In the 17th century, which opened on a new, frontier country (a kind of Stone Age- and then Iron) there were many influences to follow from the ornate Spanish to the severe Puritan, the French, the Dutch. The classical 18th has its four-phase evolution of ascendant and decadent styles; the 19th mirrored the confidence of the century, with its opulent, sometimes pretentious, Victorian era; and the book closes with the 20th century whose early arrogant, articulate rebels met intransigeant opposition, now perhaps forgotten in the acceptance today of the functional with all its power and paradox...This is an imposing study, a reflection of man in relation to his environment which brings ""life into art history and art history to life"" and it is a beautiful book with more than 300 photographs and drawings to illumine the text. It should offer both enjoyment and enlightenment for many years.