I received the following press release from author Justin Martin and Da Capo Press about the release of Martin's new book Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted (A Merloyd Lawrence Book). The book has received several positive reviews on Amazon and through traditional news outlets already.
Da Capo Press
“Olmsted had a big life, but also a tough one. He faced more—much more—than his share of tragedy, even by nineteenth-century standards. He contended with the untimely deaths of children, close relations, and dear friends. He suffered various physical ailments, such as the ravages of a near-fatal carriage accident. And he endured assorted forms of psychological torment: insomnia, anxiety, hysterical blindness, and depression…Olmsted spent his final days in an asylum; in a great irony, it was one for which he had earlier designed the grounds. But first he accomplished more than most people could in three lifetimes. As a park maker, environmentalist, and abolitionist, Olmsted helped shape modern America. This is his extraordinary story.”—from the Introduction: Why Olmsted Matters
Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted
By Justin Martin
Most people have heard of Central Park and Prospect Park in New York, Stanford University in California, the Back Bay Fens and Franklin Park in Boston, and the Capitol Grounds in Washington, D.C.—but few can identify Frederick Law Olmsted as the man behind some of America’s most iconic public spaces.
Of those who do know Olmsted, even fewer know him as anything other than a landscape architect. In Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted, Justin Martin explores Olmsted’s roots as a reformer. As a journalist, Olmsted championed the abolitionist cause to Northern and British audiences in the 1850s and 60s, exposing the evils of slavery; as an environmentalist, he created public spaces that preserved the already-existing endangered natural world. Olmsted’s conservation efforts are still felt today in places like Niagara Falls and Yosemite.
Genius of Place also delves into Olmsted’s personal life. Despite previous portrayals of Olmsted as a devoted family man with a tranquil home life, Martin exposes the tensions of Olmsted’s marriage and familial relationships, as well as Olmsted’s struggle with illness and personal tragedy, to paint a comprehensive picture of one of the most influential people of the nineteenth century.
Justin Martin, author of highly praised biographies of Alan Greenspan and Ralph Nader, was married in Central Park and lives in Forest Hills Gardens—an enclave of New York City designed by Olmsted’s son.
June 1, 2011 Hardcover $30.00 462 Pages Biography ISBN: 978-0-306-81881-3
Events: Politics & Prose (D.C.) 7/6; Barbara’s Bookstore (Chicago) 7/14; Harvard Bookstore (Cambridge) 7/21
“The remarkable story of America’s first, and still foremost, landscape architect…Martin helps explain the driven, artistic temperament that informed the famed landscapes. He persuasively casts Olmsted as essentially a social reformer whose passion for meaningful work found its most complete expression in the creation of public spaces intended for the enjoyment of all. A revealing look at a still-under appreciated giant whose work touches posterity more intimately and more delightfully than many of his distinguished Civil War-era "contemporaries."—Kirkus Reviews