am 18. Juni 2000
This is a wonderful book. Nearly every page introduces me to something new, and thus broadens my conception of what it means to be a human being. Flipping through it at random reveals photos of gigantic Syrian water wheels, Dogon granaries, Spanish arcades, desert fortresses in Morocco, Italian hill towns, and hollowed-out baobab trees used as homes. The book is far more than a mere collection of curiosities, though: it is a challenge to our narrow conceptions of what makes a building or a city "legitimate." The book goes on to challenge us on even more fundamental levels: it radically expands one's exposure to alternate forms of living/urbanism/social networks, and exposure to the different social forms of the past always causes me to think heavily upon the ways in which the ones of our own time might be deficient (The incredible diversity of building styles depicted in this book are jeopardized and in some cases destroyed by the rise of tourism and the global marketplace; a trend that has already done irreperable damage to some of these cultures at the time the text was written.) A slim but important book, a celebration of human diversity, and a call for increased attention towards both our own lifestyles and the ones we endanger.