What We Are Reading Today: The 99% Invisible City

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Updated 16 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The 99% Invisible City

Authors: Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt

The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design by Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt is a fascinating collection of stories and descriptions that explain all sorts of things associated with city infrastructure.
The 99% Invisible City “explains how different design features in cities have come about and why they are that way. These are short entries, only two or three pages long per topic. Rather than looking at the best design, we’re often told about a poor design that doesn’t work,” said a review in goodreads.com.
The 99% Invisible City is “fresh and imaginative when it comes to thinking about urban spaces,” said Kenneth T. Jackson in a review for The New York Times.
“In a time when we question whether it is perhaps the moment to tear down statues of flawed historical figures, to attach new plaques to buildings or to change the names of military installations and college dormitories, the authors are asking us to observe carefully the monuments and symbols that are everywhere around us,” Jackson said.


What We Are Reading Today: Ravenna; Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin

Updated 29 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Ravenna; Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin

At the end of the fourth century, as the power of Rome faded and Constantinople became the seat of empire, a new capital city was rising in the West. Here, in Ravenna on the coast of Italy, Arian Goths and Catholic Romans competed to produce an unrivaled concentration of buildings and astonishing mosaics. For three centuries, the city attracted scholars, lawyers, craftsmen, and religious luminaries, becoming a true cultural and political capital. Bringing this extraordinary history marvelously to life, Judith Herrin rewrites the history of East and West in the Mediterranean world before the rise of Islam and shows how, thanks to Byzantine influence, Ravenna played a crucial role in the development of medieval Christendom.

Drawing on deep, original research, Herrin tells the personal stories of Ravenna while setting them in a sweeping synthesis of Mediterranean and Christian history. She narrates the lives of the Empress Galla Placidia and the Gothic king Theoderic and describes the achievements of an amazing cosmographer and a doctor who revived Greek medical knowledge in Italy, demolishing the idea that the West just descended into the medieval “Dark Ages.”

Beautifully illustrated and drawing on the latest archaeological findings, this monumental book provides a bold new interpretation of Ravenna’s lasting influence on the culture of Europe and the West.