• The Address Book

  • What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power
  • By: Deirdre Mask
  • Narrated by: Janina Edwards
  • Length: 8 hrs and 30 mins
  • Categories: History, World
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (64 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An extraordinary debut in the tradition of classic works from authors such as Mark Kurlansky, Mary Roach, and Rose George.

An exuberant and insightful work of popular history of how streets got their names, houses their numbers, and what it reveals about class, race, power, and identity.

When most people think about street addresses, if they think of them at all, it is in their capacity to ensure that the postman can deliver mail or a traveler won’t get lost. But street addresses were not invented to help you find your way; they were created to find you. In many parts of the world, your address can reveal your race and class. 

In this wide-ranging and remarkable book, Deirdre Mask looks at the fate of streets named after Martin Luther King Jr., the way finding means of ancient Romans, and how Nazis haunt the streets of modern Germany. The flipside of having an address is not having one, and we also see what that means for millions of people today, including those who live in the slums of Kolkata and on the streets of London. 

Filled with fascinating people and histories, The Address Book illuminates the complex and sometimes hidden stories behind street names and their power to name, to hide, to decide who counts, who doesn’t - and why.

©2020 Deirdre Mask (P)2020 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

"Janina Edwards narrates this globe-trotting and highly informed work in a fluid style. Edwards acts as a tour guide who leads the listener from India to Haiti, London to Manhattan, and skillfully renders the numerous people the listener meets along the journey. Her performance deftly captures the broad interests and wide-angle lens of the author." AudioFile Magazine

What listeners say about The Address Book

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Simply OK

The subject of this book would make a great magazine article. As a full-length book, though, it is simply OK. While parts of it are very interesting, too many parts of it are filled with stories and anecdotes that go off course.

1 person found this helpful

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Unique perspective!

I never would have thought that this topic would be so compelling! As thorough as the research was I was still wanting when the book was done. The narration was perfect. I learned a lot and am looking at many things through a different lens. Thanks for your story....

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Identity, culture, and addresses

Who knew the intricacies of a simple thing as "an address" would affect kingdoms, dynasties, and culture? Deirdre Mask presents in a "hard to put down" manner the history of why there are addresses in the world and how they can determine the course of lives!

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Explores a Topic I never Gave Much Thought

This is a very interesting book exploring the political and socioeconomic impact of street addresses around the world. I’ve never given this much thought but it turns out addresses have a tremendous impact on our quality of lives as well as our culture. Definitely give this book a listen to discover something new!

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Addresses are fascinating

Maybe I am a geek but I found this book full of absolutely fascinating information. Plus it brought its subject right to today’s headlines — streets named for Confederate generals and how the lack of an address is one of the biggest problems being faced by those experiencing homelessness. Have you ever wondered why there are all these anomalies in Manhattan building addresses? What alternatives are there to addresses and what do they say about that country’s culture? These are just a couple of the issues raised in this book. Absolutely fascinating and well told.

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Fascinating and Thought Provoking

‘The Address Book’ was fascinating and thought provoking. Addresses are something most of us give little thought to but contain so much in them. They often reflect our societal values and connect us to governments, services, and even jobs. Mask uses excellent examples to support her points about identity, race, wealth, and power in this well-organized text. Mask writes in a way that is very accessible, entertaining, eye-opening, and often thought-provoking. Some parts had me laughing so hard, like the chapter that included possibly offensive British street names; and then had me considering the persisting legacy of the Confederacy in the United States following the Civil War or how best we can prevent catastrophic diseases from spreading by using addresses. This book covers so many different topics all over the world.

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Beyond the history of addresses

Stories of real people around the world and different challenges of place. Includes ideas for how to empower people with addresses, including people exp homelessness.

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Excellent nonfiction

Well written, interesting, and thought provoking. The Address Book is a combination of a look at the history of addresses and current research related to the same.