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Jackson, John Brinckerhoff. The Necessity for Ruins, and other Topics. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1980.
This book is a collection of nine essays written by a cultural landscape icon and founder of Landscape magazine. It is a useful and interesting collection of articles focusing on the evolution of components of built/manipulated environments and discusses how to study cultural landscapes. The first essay follows the history of tourism and its relation to landscape study. “Nearer than Eden”, “Gardens to Decipher and Gardens to Admire”, “The Discovery of the Street”, “The Sacred Grove in America”, and “The Domestication of the Garage” all trace elements of the landscape through the centuries, noting the broad variety of the subjects and their reflections and implications on changing societies. “Landscape as Theatre” reviews the history of theatre from the 16th through the 18th centuries, outlining its use as a metaphor for the world and its players and its role in interpreting landscapes. The title article, “The Necessity For Ruins” analyzes historic objects and monuments, stating that they are actually a reflection of our nostalgia and vernacular past, rather than admiration of beauty or an event. This chapter concludes by suggesting the preservation movement is a new form of interpreting history. The final essay is an excellent discussion on how to study landscapes, written clearly in a highly personal tone. While sometimes repetitive, this important scholar provides glimpses into a diverse range of elements of the built environment, puts them into context within time, and provides the tools to engage the reader into thinking about landscape studies. [L. Plumley]