THE POWER OF PLACE by Winifred Gallagher


How Our Surroundings Shape Our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions
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 The concept of place has been given relatively short shrift since the overthrow of environmental determinism. In this open, thoroughgoing, effective study, however, freelance journalist Gallagher (The Atlantic, etc.) restores place to its proper niche in the big picture. Gallagher takes a long, hard look at how place--our physical setting--delights us, confounds us, affects our moods and alters our behavior, influences us from every angle. She has drunk deeply from current scientific literature and seeds her text with references to the pineal gland, the hypothalamus, and the limbic system. But she wears her erudition lightly, making the most obscure material natural, meaningful, and unthreatening. Gallagher is as comfortable discussing geomagnetic fields, extreme environments, and circadian rhythms as she is with psychobiological research, and her willingness to be influenced by a wide variety of sources and schools gives her work a richly textured quality. While the land itself comes in for intense scrutiny, the author doesn't stop at purple mountains majesty but explores a pleasingly broad sense of place. Place, she notes, is anywhere you are: in utero, on a Denali glacier, inside a sensory deprivation tank, or within the environment connecting mother and child. Gallagher also takes time to explore geophysical mysteries and marvels, from ghost lights to sacred spots, although the process of demystification--explaining a vision away as a geomagnetic disturbance, for instance--lacks a certain poetry. An intriguing examination of an elusive topic, with a depth and range that go beyond predictable terrain.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-72410-X
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993


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