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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments

A decimated Shiite shrine in Iraq. The smoking World Trade Center site. The scorched cityscape of 1945 Dresden. Among the most indelible scars left by war is the destroyed landscapes, and such architectural devastation damages far more than mere buildings. Robert Bevan argues herethat shattered buildings are not merely and#8220;collateral damage,and#8221; but rather calculated acts of cultural annihilation.

From Hitlerand#8217;s Kristallnacht to the toppling of Saddam Husseinand#8217;s statue in the Iraq War, Bevan deftly sifts through military campaigns and their tactics throughout history, and analyzes the cultural impact and catastrophic consequences of architectural destruction. For Bevan, these actions are nothing less than cultural genocide. Ultimately, Bevan forcefully argues for the prosecution of nations that purposely flout established international treaties against destroyed architecture.

A passionate and thought-provoking cri de coeur, The Destruction of Memory raises questions about the costs of war that run deeper than blood and money.

and#8220;The idea of a global inheritance seems to have fallen by the wayside and lessons that should have long ago been learned are still being recklessly disregarded. This is what makes Bevanand#8217;s book relevant, even urgent: much of the destruction of which it speaks is still under way.and#8221;and#8212;Financial Times Magazine

and#160;

and#8220;The message of Robert Bevanand#8217;s devastating book is that war is about killing cultures, identities and memories as much as it is about killing people and occupying territory.and#8221;and#8212;Sunday Times

and#160;

and#8220;As Bevanand#8217;s fascinating, melancholy book shows, symbolic buildings have long been targeted in and out of war as a particular kind of mnemonic violence against those to whom they are special.and#8221;and#8212;The Guardian

Review

“The ways in which memory inheres in all parts of the built environment is expressed clearly and this is an absorbing, sobering and scholarly book.”

Review

“His narrative is compelling and convincing. This important book reveals the extent of cultural warfare, exposes its nature and, by helping us to understand some of the most terrible tragedies of recent times, gives us the means and resolve to fight this evil. All who care must read this book and learn its lessons.”

Review

The Destruction of Memory presents a dark account of how that devastation is brought about, along with a cogent argument for why it deserves recognition as an atrocity separate from the human carnage it so often accompanies. . . . Bevan’s grim statistics force readers to confront yet another dimension of the savagery of our age.”

Review

“Bevan wisely doesn’t push his case to the point of strict consistence; his weighting of the role of architecture in war is not absolutely uniform from case to case, nor does it need to be. . . . It is sobering to have so many apparent facts and figures in one book. . . . Where power belongs to the aggressor, the destruction of one family’s home might be taken as the first embodiment of a genocide. In reminding us of this Bevan has performed a valuable service, no matter what we may think about a rebuilt Warsaw or a cherished ruin. . . . If we accept that there is no architecturally embodied identity of a nation or people, that our current historical existence is not vitally wrapped up in relics of an imagined past except as nostalgia, then we are unlikely to worry about the occasionally destruction of buildings. Bevan’s book makes clear that such insouciance (and nostalgia) is the privilege of the secure and well-defended nation-states where the continuity of home and shelter is assumed.”

Review

“This absorbing study attempts to tease out meaning from these various vandalisms.”

Review

“His research runs deep, and his visits and interviews are wide-ranging. . . . Instructive.”

Review

“Concentrates on the erasure of cultures by the destruction of their buildings and is a must-read.”

Review

“Timely and original. . . . In this indispensable and beautifuly written first international survey of its type, Robert Bevan raise the importance of safeguarding the world’s architectural record.”

Review

“Mr. Bevan’s text is brimming with detail and informed insight regarding the conflicts he covers. . . . Excellent book.”

Review

“As Bevan’s fascinating, melancholy book shows, symbolic buildings have long been targeted in and out of war as a particular kind of mnemonic violence against those to whom they are special.”

Review

“The idea of a global inheritance seems to have fallen by the wayside and lessons that should have long ago been learned are still being recklessly disregarded. This is what makes Bevan’s book relevant, even urgent: much of the destruction of which it speaks is still under way.”

Review

“The message of Robert Bevanand#8217;s devastating book is that war is about killing cultures, identities and memories as much as it is about killing people and occupying territory. War is not just licensed murder but licensed vandalism. Since people are replaceable but buildings and cultures not, the destruction of buildings is often the more ferocious.”

Review

“Thoughtful and provocative. . . .Yet from the Nazi looting of synagogues to the Taliban’s demolition of the Bamiyan Buddhas, deliberate destruction of the physical environment has often presaged devastating conflicts. Bevan’s timely book urges us to remain attentive to such early warning signs.”

Review

“The sheer volume and scope of the material Bevan has gather on the destruction of architectural heritage as a form of ‘cultural cleansing’ makes The Destruction of Memoryand#160;a valuable resource. . . . The mass of absolutely fascinating, morally complex, and, to me at least, often unfamiliar material . . . makes Bevan well worth reading. . . . And yet the book is worth reading, because Bevan uses vivid narrative detail to bring ot our attention the important insight that ‘the destruction of the cultural artifacts of an enemy people or nation’ can be a kind of analog to genocide or ethnic cleansing.”

Review

“Concentrates on the erasure of cultures by the destruction of their buildings and is a must-read.” Diana Muir – History News Network

Synopsis

Crumbled shells of mosques in Iraq, the bombing of British cathedrals in World War II, the fall of the World Trade Center towers on September 11: when architectural totems such as these are destroyed by conflicts and the ravages of war, more than mere buildings are at stake. The Destruction of Memory reveals the extent to which a nation weds itself to its landscape; Robert Bevan argues that such destruction not only shatters a nation’s culture and morale but is also a deliberate act of eradicating a culture’s memory and, ultimately, its existence. 

Bevan combs through world history to highlight a range of wars and conflicts in which the destruction of architecture was pivotal. From Cortez’s razing of Aztec cities to the carpet bombings of Dresden and Tokyo in World War II to the war in the former Yugoslavia, The Destruction of Memory exposes the cultural war that rages behind architectural annihilation, revealing that in this subliminal assault lies the complex aim of exterminating a people. He provocatively argues for “the fatally intertwined experience of genocide and cultural genocide,” ultimately proposing the elevation of cultural genocide to a crime punishable by international law. 

In an age in which Frank Gehry, I. M. Pei, and Frank Lloyd Wright are revered and yet museums and temples of priceless value are destroyed in wars around the world, Bevan challenges the notion of “collateral damage,” arguing that it is in fact a deliberate act of war.

About the Author

Robert Bevan is the former editor of Building Design and writes regularly on architectural, design, and housing issues for national newspapers. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

Table of Contents

1.and#160; Introduction:and#160; The Enemies of Architecture and Memory2.and#160; Cultural Cleansing:and#160; Who Remembers the Armenians?3.and#160; Terror:and#160; Morale, Messages, and Propaganda4.and#160; Conquest and Revolution5.and#160; Fences and Neighbors:and#160; The Destructive Consequences of Partition6.and#160; Remember and Warn I:and#160; Rebuilding and Commemoration7.and#160; Remember and Warn II:and#160; Protection and Prosecutionand#160;ReferencesAcknowledgmentsPhotographic AcknowledgmentsIndex

Product Details

ISBN:
9781861893192
Binding:
Trade Paperback
Publication date:
03/01/2007
Publisher:
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS
Pages:
240
Height:
.65IN
Width:
6.23IN
Thickness:
.75
Number of Units:
1
Illustration:
Yes
Copyright Year:
2007
UPC Code:
2801861893194
Author:
Robert Bevan
Author:
Robert Bevan
Subject:
Buildings
Subject:
Architecture — History.

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