Books for the News, History

The ruins of the U.S.

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Nick Yablon, professor of American studies and author of Untimely Ruins: An Archaeology of American Urban Modernity, 1819-1919 was given a short interview this morning on NPR’s Marketplace to discuss his book and the modern “ruins” that now dot the American landscape in the wake of the great recession. Navigate to the Marketplace website to listen to the archived audio.
About the book:

American ruins have become increasingly prominent, whether in discussions of “urban blight” and home foreclosures, in commemorations of 9/11, or in postapocalyptic movies. In this highly original book, Nick Yablon argues that the association between American cities and ruins dates back to a much earlier period in the nation’s history. Recovering numerous scenes of urban desolation—from failed banks, abandoned towns, and dilapidated tenements to the crumbling skyscrapers and bridges envisioned in science fiction and cartoons—Untimely Ruins challenges the myth that ruins were absent or insignificant objects in nineteenth-century America.
Unearthing evocative sources everywhere from the archives of amateur photographers to the contents of time-capsules, Untimely Ruins exposes crucial debates about the economic, technological, and cultural transformations known as urban modernity. The result is a fascinating cultural history that uncovers fresh perspectives on the American city.