Wednesday, January 30, 2008


In Lower Manhattan, the reconstructed ruins of an Irish cottage lie in a green field dotted with heather and bullrushes. Only a few years old, this monument memorializes the millions of Irish men, women and children that died or fled during the Great Hunger (1845-1852). It's not your typical historical monument. In her new book Monuments: America's history in art and memory, Judith Dupre shows us that there are many ways to celebrate, mourn and honor the events and people that made America. Some of the examples she discusses are quite famous: the Liberty Bell, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial. Others are less well-known and/or newer, and some of these mementos are quite unusual. She includes the Aids Quilt, the wall of photos and missing posters that appeared right after 9/11, a time capsule, the schooner Amistad, and the first park-like burial grounds in the United States. She explains the different types of monuments, the great designers and sculptors, and the importance of photographs - small personal monuments. This is a beautifully-constructed book (that phrase will make more sense when you see the cover), and even her choice of using only black-and-white photos and illustrations seems fitting considering the subject matter. This book is an interesting look at the way we remember.

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