Walls: Enclosure and Ethics in the Modern Landscape
The title Walls suggests a book with numerous illustrations. Sadly, in this scholarly work by landscape architect Thomas Oles we receive mostly text and relatively few small, black-and-white, poor-quality sketches and photos; in many it’s difficult to see what the author depicts. He introduces the book with Denmark having many walls and fences versus the relatively open American urban scenes. The volume is mostly philosophical and ethical regarding walls, fences, and other enclosures: Are they good or bad? Is the common adage “good fences make good neighbors” valid? This is Oles’s principal focus and he cites numerous examples from prehistoric, ancient, and modern history, the two most notable being the Berlin Wall and the US/Mexico border. We learn about walls and enclosures from archeological digs, from many stories in the Bible, from modern city planning, and so on. Oles lightens the lengthy text with many stories, including some rather long ones from the Bible, and quotations from poets, politicians, philosophers, and environmentalists. Though the text is not hard to read, his occasional use of substituting rarely used words for simple ones slows down reading. A twenty-four-page notes section and extensive index ends the volume. This is not for the layman.
University of Chicago Press