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Paperback The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession Book

ISBN: 1560984066

ISBN13: 9781560984061

The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession

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Book Overview

Lawns now blanket thirty million acres of the United States, but until the late nineteenth century few Americans had any desire for a front lawn, much less access to seeds for growing one. In her... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Wonderful Cultural History, Contribution to Understanding (sub)Urban Form

Anyone interested in how lawns came to be the "norm" and a standard signifier of upward mobility in America will find this book fascinating. For those who would like to encourage a different urban form (less lawns, houses closer to the street, new urbanism or smart growth) the book offers some hope by its demonstration of how something so "natural" was constructed over the last 80-100 years. The roles of technology, science, and gender politics, as well as class issues and environmental concerns are covered in a way that makes the story more entertaining and underscores the numerous fronts through which the lawn aesthetic was reinforced. I found this to be a great contribution to our understanding of how one element of the bigger picture contributes to larger trends affecting human settlement patterns, the ways we interact with each other and experience community, and even our public health. Now I need to read the history "air conditioning in america" to understand the role of that element....most cultural and social histories certainly cite issues like lawns and air conditioning as part of the dynamics, but don't have the time or space to examine the issue in depth-- its great that Jenkins does this, even if it was a dissertation (and heck, that's one of the things dissertations are actually useful for...).

A must-read for any homeowner!

This book's title is very appropriate. You will have no questions about how houses all came to be surrounded by lawns after reading this. It explains how agriculture, chemical companies, the garden industry, golfing, housing developments, world wars, etc... and the advent of new inventions have come together to result in an entire lifestyle revolving around 'the lawn.' The writing is smooth and it goes down easy, from cover to cover. Written in language anyone can understand, yet factual enough to hold the interest of those with some existing knowledge. There are about 20 pictures of vintage advertisements for lawn products, which I enjoyed seeing very much. There is also a good bit of detail about what used to grow on the property surrounding most homes before lawns. Please also see, "Redesigning the American Lawn; A search for Environmental Harmony," by F. Herbert Bormann, Diana Balmori, Gordon T. Geballe. This book takes up where we leave off. What is the impact of millions of monoculture lawns on the lifestyles and wallets of those who tend them, and on the environment? How can I change my yard to look better, and spend less time and money tending it (and to have less of a negative impact on the environment.)

A book to read while lying in your hammock

This book describes the history of how lawns were first introduced to American, became popular, and then became a necessity. Jenkins traces the early history of lawns as importations of the English country garden concept, as found in Jefferson's gardens in Monticello. She also explains the influences that garden clubs, the golf industry, and the USDA had on the popularization of lawns. The book is not just about lawns, however. It also provides a very interesting analysis of how advertising was used to create demand for completely unnecessary products, and how those products, such as lawn mowers and weed whackers, later came to be thought of as indispensable. This book will be of interest to historians of landscape architecture as well as to researchers of material culture.

great look at the history of the so-called "green" industry

a fun insightful look at the western fascination with the lawn

Grass as an American cultural obsession

Before you go purchase that big bag o' Kentucky Bluegrass seed, read this book. It's a comprehensive history, cultural and ecological critique of something we usually don't think twice about-- the lush, green, overfertilized and ultimately sterile front lawn. Jenkins has a sense of humor about her subject, but doesn't let it mask the very real implications of what happens when all that fertilizer and insecticide almost every suburbanite pours onto their lawns gets into the larger ecosystem. If you are into American pop culture, environmentalism, class history or even just a good non-fiction read, this book is for you.
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