Unexpected Gift, Unexpected Narrative

So, here’s a wonderful thing: receiving an unexpected book-gift, and having said boon turn out to be really wonderful. In this case, I’m talking about John H. Sprinkle, Jr.’s Crafting Preservation Criteria: The National Register of Historic Places and American Historic Preservation.

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Source: Fred Hsu

I’ll have to admit: before receiving the monograph, I was completely uninformed about how sites were granted the status of “historic places,” and didn’t feel much need to fill that particular gap in my knowledge. But after opening this one up, I got sucked into the history of all the complex and earnest wrangling over just how one nation should go about determining what most represents its values and epitomizes its history– and I spent the entire plane ride (yup, another one) fascinated by how Sprinkle puts together what could have been a very dry official/bureaucratic record. But instead of handing over one of those bare-bones accounts that string together facts, somehow doing so by eliminating every last trace of narrative, he’s given us a human tale that sets us right down in the contextual midst of all these places, their stories, and the people who determine what to do with them, and why. I’m only halfway through the book; since exiting the plane a few days ago, I’ve done nothing but prepare for a big move and get a little work turned in in the process– but I’m actually looking forward to being trapped in a flying metal tube for a couple of hours tomorrow, so that I can focus on the latter half of the volume.

To further reading, then, and to generosity– both in terms of the person who gave me the book, and the authorial magnanimity with which it was created!

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