Outside Lies Magic by John R. Stilgoe
Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places

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Outside Lies Magic is a book about the acute observation of ordinary things, about becoming aware in everyday places, about seeing in utterly new ways, about enriching your life unexpectedly.For more than 20 years, John R. Stilgoe has developed and practiced the art of exploring the everyday world around us, where so much lies hidden just beneath the surface, offering uncommon knowledge if we but know what to look for. In this remarkable book, Stilgoe inspires us to become explorers on our own-on foot or on bicycle-and by so doing to reap the benefits of escaping, even temporarily, the traps of our programmed lives."Exploration encourages creativity, serendipity, invention," he writes. And while sharing his insights on how to explore, Stilgoe provides a fascinating pocket history of the American landscape, as striking in its originality as it is revealing. Stilgoe dissects our visual surroundings; his observations will transform the way you see everything. Through his eyes, an abandoned railroad line is redolent of history and future promise; front lawns recall our agrarian past; vacant lots hold cathedrals of potential.From the electrical grid overhead to fences, malls, and main streets, Stilgoe offers a fresh understanding of the links and fractures in our society. After reading Outside Lies Magic, your world will never look the same again.

About John R. Stilgoe

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John R. Stilgoe is Orchard Professor of Landscape History at Harvard University. He is the author of Alongshore; Metropolitan Corridor: Railroads and the American Scene; Borderland: Origins of the American Suburb; and Common Landscape of America, 1540 to 1845. He lives in Norwell, Massachusetts.
Published May 26, 2009 by Walker Books. 202 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Political & Social Sciences, Sports & Outdoors. Non-fiction

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He is predictably arch when it comes to landscape design in public spaces—in particular, the ubiquitous dwarf evergreen species that neatly line our roadside parking lots like housebroken pets (Stilgoe’s image), and which he describes as part of the larger marketing strategy behind the developmen...

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Publishers Weekly

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The book is wildly uneven--the section on motels, for instance, does little more than belabor the obvious--and the repeated refrain to Open Your Eyes and Look Around becomes hectoring, but when Stilgoe lets his imagination run free, the results can become breathtaking.

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In his chapter on mail, we walk through the history of the nation's mail delivery system and are told how people and mail used to travel together on trains for same day service (a service in high demand today at a substantial cost).

Sep 10 1998 | Read Full Review of Outside Lies Magic: Regaining...

ForeWord Reviews

Risking the shattering of those walls is worth all the risks of going for a long, careful walk, for riding a bicycle down a different street, for seeing what no one photographs, for noticing what no one realizes.”"

Jun 15 1998 | Read Full Review of Outside Lies Magic: Regaining...

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