Victorian Society Book of the Year Winner & Marfield Prize Finalist
In twenty-odd books about the American past, I have written of builders and buildings, of paintings and presidents, seeking narrative in places and people. My newest book explores the collaborations of two giants of the post-Civil War era, men whose work had unrivaled impact on the rapidly changing American landscape.
“An inspired look at two of our nation’s masters. Hugh Howard gets it marvelously right in Architects of an American Landscape.” The Washington Review of Books
“A readable, intelligently paced dual biography, the literary equivalent of a rolling, Olmstedian greensward.” Alex Beam, Wall Street Journal
“An absorbing and informative history from a significant historian/biographer.” Kirkus
“Smart and immensely readable.” Cullen Murphy in Graydon Carter’s Air Mail
If you would like to sample the text, Daily Beast ran an excerpt, as has Literary Hub; or you can listen to Ralph Gardner’s radio commentary about Architects of an American Landscape, on WAMC Public Radio.
The Christian Science Monitor reviewed the book and cited it as one of the ten best of January, and Anthony Paletta found much to admire in his essay in The American Conservative.
The book is for sale in local bookstores and at bookshop.org or Amazon.
The story is this: As the planner of New York’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted is widely remembered as America’s first and finest landscape architect. Henry Hobson Richardson was universally regarded in their era as the nation’s most original and influential architect. The two friends and frequent collaborators met their moment in the post-Civil War years, a time of extraordinary cultural, economic, and social change. They accomplished nothing less than the reimagining of the American landscape.
Other early readers of this dual biography were intrigued, among them former National Gallery curator and Princeton professor emeritus John Wilmerding, who offered, “Howard’s narrative is as substantial and well-ordered as any Richardson edifice; his prose is as lively and engaging as an Olmsted park landscape. Like a perfectly laced boot, his chapters alternate between these two giants of American architecture, until they come together in personal friendship and professional collaboration, to produce some of the greatest buildings and natural spaces in our history.”