The Address Book: Book summary and reviews of The Address Book by Deirdre Mask

The Address Book

What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power

by Deirdre Mask

The Address Book by Deirdre Mask X
The Address Book by Deirdre Mask
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About this book

Book 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 wayfinding 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Throughout this eye-opening book, the author clearly demonstrates that package deliveries constitute a minuscule part of the significance of addresses—not only today, but throughout human history...A standout book of sociological history and current affairs." - Kirkus Review (starred review)

"An entertaining and wide-ranging debut...Mask's fluid narration and impressive research uncover the importance of an aspect of daily life that most people take for granted, and she profiles a remarkable array of activists, historians, and artists whose work intersects with the evolution and meaning of street addresses. This evocative history casts its subject in a whole new light." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Engaging, illuminating, and with highly relevant current subject matter, this book is recommended for all readers, especially fans of popular history and politics." - Library Journal (starred review)

"I had hoped The Address Book would change the way I think about an oft-overlooked, seemingly banal bit of everyday life. I had no idea it would so change the way I think about life itself." - Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic and You May Also Like

"The Address Book is a deeply-researched dive into the surprising histories and meanings that lie behind the seemingly mundane way we name our streets and number our houses and buildings. Deidre Mask provides powerful insight into the ways these addresses not only structure our lives but function as a tool to classify and track people, reflecting the enduring divides of class, race, and power. A must read for urbanists and all those interested in cities and modern economic and social life." - Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class

"In this lively and eye-opening book, Deidre Mask unearths the many layers of meaning hiding just below the surface of the ways we place ourselves and others in our communities." - Jeff Speck, urban planner and author of Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time

This information about The Address Book was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Deirdre Mask

Deirdre Mask graduated from Harvard College summa cum laude, and attended University of Oxford before returning to Harvard for law school, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She completed a master's in writing at the National University of Ireland. The author of The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power, Deirdre's writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, and the Guardian. Originally from North Carolina, she has taught at Harvard and the London School of Economics. She lives with her husband and daughters in London.

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