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MODERN MAN

THE LIFE OF LE CORBUSIER, ARCHITECT OF TOMORROW

Flint’s life of “the original star architect” astutely captures Le Corbusier’s hubris and vulnerabilities and makes a...

The life and work of an iconic modernist.

In 1920, Swiss-born architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris changed his name to Le Corbusier (1887-1965). The dramatic “single moniker,” writes journalist Flint (Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City, 2009, etc.), “signaled his break with the past…and the embrace of the modern.” The author ably chronicles Le Corbusier’s pursuit of the modern in designs that remained remarkably consistent during his long career. In villas, apartment complexes and public buildings, Le Corbusier conceived stark, concrete structures perched on concrete columns, with open-plan interiors swathed in natural light and containing minimalist furniture, such as the metal tubing and leather chairs designed by a member of his firm. His wife found the ambience dispiriting: It was like living in a hospital, she complained, or “a dissecting lab!” Some clients, although impressed by the theatricality of the imposing architecture, found living within its walls uncomfortable, especially in a villa that became inundated with water after every rain. Le Corbusier had grander ambitions than simply designing for wealthy clients. During World War II, he nimbly allied himself with the Vichy government, hoping to redesign Paris after the war’s destruction; in 1945, he easily—and with no repercussions—switched sides. He envisioned entire cities “with places and buildings for all human activities by which the citizens can live a full and harmonious life.” Constructed rigidly on a grid, with large spaces between buildings comprised of small modular apartments, the cities would include schools, shops and extensive roof gardens representing the natural landscape. Critics asserted that he was blind to people’s real lives and the interactions that created community, but Le Corbusier believed that well-designed density, “a repeatable urban form,” was the overriding need of the future.

Flint’s life of “the original star architect” astutely captures Le Corbusier’s hubris and vulnerabilities and makes a persuasive case for his artistic significance.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0544262225

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Amazon Publishing/New Harvest

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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