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The Man in the Glass House

Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century
Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
Length: 17 hrs and 19 mins
3 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When Philip Johnson died in 2005 at the age of 98, he was still one of the most recognizable - and influential - figures on the American cultural landscape. The first recipient of the Pritzker Prize and MoMA's founding architectural curator, Johnson made his mark as one of America's leading architects with his famous Glass House in New Caanan, Connecticut, and his controversial AT&T Building in New York City, among many others in nearly every city in the country - but his most natural role was as a consummate power broker and shaper of public opinion.

Johnson introduced European modernism - the sleek, glass-and-steel architecture that now dominates our cities - to America, and mentored generations of architects, designers, and artists to follow. He defined the era of "starchitecture" with its flamboyant buildings and celebrity designers who esteemed aesthetics and style above all other concerns. But Johnson was also a man of deep paradoxes: he was a Nazi sympathizer, a designer of synagogues, an enfant terrible into his old age, a populist, and a snob. His clients ranged from the Rockefellers to televangelists to Donald Trump.

Award-winning architectural critic and biographer Mark Lamster's The Man in the Glass House lifts the veil on Johnson's controversial and endlessly contradictory life to tell the story of a charming yet deeply flawed man. A roller-coaster tale of the perils of wealth, privilege, and ambition, this book probes the dynamics of American culture that made him so powerful and tells the story of the built environment in modern America.

©2019 Mark Lamster (P)2019 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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Disappointing!

Lamster personal dislike of Philip Johnson gets in the way of the listener understanding of this eminent architect and his world. There is plenty of things to criticize him for particular the period in the 1930 but he belittles just about all of his accomplishments. By the end of the book I was very tired of his snarky, pithy writing style. Just about everyone who gets mentioned gets zapped; he describes Frank Gehry as irresponsible , fat stoner.

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  • PD
  • Brooklyn
  • 07-10-19

A missed opportunity

Architects, even famous ones, don’t have that many biographies written about them. We will have to wait another 20 years for a good updated biography of Philip Johnson. This book is a complete missed opportunity and a waste of time to read. Stick to the Franz Schulze bio, that’s what Lamster did. It feels like it was his main source. Philip Johnson was a complex and flawed person, but to make light of his impact on the world of architecture and Modern and Contemporary Art, is to miss the point. He was both men. The author plays fast and loose with the time line to make Johnson appear even worse. Compressing time to concentrate events for the sake of drama. He also shows a complete lack of understanding of how an architecture office works. Many of the people, who Lamster claims were used unscrupulously by Johnson, have not amounted to much after they left his office. Philip was the magician!

The snarky tone of the books is its biggest flaw, and I can only imagine that after studying Johnson for 10 years he learned how to be bitchy, as Johnson could be, but never learned the wit that made speaking with Philip Johnson magic.

I do feel bad for Mark Bramhall who's performance amplifies the obnoxious snark to an unbearable level but I am sure, he was following the direction of the producers. Shame on them for not having the wisdom to understand how weak this book truly is.