Archive for July, 2012

Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi – by Timothy R. Pauketat

You need to have an interest in archeology to truly appreciate this book, and a particular interest in Illinois archeology wouldn’t hurt. While the book covers the history of Cahokia, it is more a history of the archeological work that has gone on there (just east of St. Louis, in Illinois) and the theories about its origin and its demise. Personally, I found it to be a very interesting and readable.

I have been to Cahokia a couple of times but I never appreciated the structure of Cahokia as much I do now after reading this book. Indeed, reading the book has made me want to make another trip down there for a more in-depth visit. There has been much more work done there since my last visit (in the late 1970’s, I think), and I would like to follow up on it. I guess a road trip may be in order, subject to temperature and availability of traveling companion.

This book would serve as a good introduction to Cahokia to anyone who would like to make a visit there. It always helps to know what you are looking at.

(Finished 7/29/12)

Shop Drawings for Greene & Greene Furniture – by Robert W. Lang

At its most basic, this is a book of shop drawings for twenty-three pieces of Greene and Greene furniture. These are not detailed plans with cutting lists and instructions for building each piece of furniture. They are measured drawings that show the details of construction and leave the final planning to the builder. I think you could easily build a pretty close reproduction of most of these pieces from these drawings, but the end result would still be the builder’s interpretation. The drawings are excellent for their purpose.

In addition to the drawings, there are chapters on the history of the people, the places and the furniture. They are brief but concise, leaving you to follow up with more reading if you wish (other resources are listed in the book). For the furniture builder, there is discussion of woodworking techniques unique to Greene & Greene furniture as well as notes on materials and finishes – all very helpful information.

Robert Lang has done several other books like this one, mostly for Craftsman furniture and decorative details. All are excellent resources for people interested in building their own furniture in this style, either as straight reproductions or as each builder’s interpretation of the style.

(Finished 7/4/12)