The Edifice Complex: How the Rich and Powerful Shape the World

Deyan Sudjic, Author . Penguin Press $27.95 (405p) ISBN 978-1-59420-068-7

Everything is political, especially architecture, Sudjic demonstrates in this provocative consideration of the world's most notable architectural triumphs and the masters who commissioned them. From Stalin to Mitterrand to Saddam Hussein, argues Sudjic, "architecture is used by political leaders to seduce, to impress and to intimidate." The evidence is all around us, he says, even in the attack on New York City's Twin Towers, which he views as "a literal acceptance of the iconic power of architecture." Zipping through pre-Partition Pakistan, Nazi Germany, modern-day New York and back, Sudjic shows how buildings are employed to demonstrate a state's power, to build a nation's cultural identity and to assure leaders that their legacies are both admirable and memorable. As for the architects who design such iconic structures—from Hitler's confidant Albert Speer to ground zero's "therapist" Daniel Libeskind—Sudjic reveals that they often have motivations that are startlingly distinct from those who hire them. Sudjic's research is thorough, and his prose lively and sharp. But his accounts can be meandering and chaotic, jumping in one instance from Malaysia's Petronas Towers to the background of a September 11 suicide bomber. Architecture connoisseurs will appreciate the gossipy histories and the original lines of thought, but readers less familiar with the subject may feel dizzied by Sudjik's erudite collages. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/10/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-4406-4576-1
Paperback - 403 pages - 978-0-14-303801-6
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-4406-4932-5
Paperback - 455 pages - 978-0-241-95277-1
Open Ebook - 978-1-101-39425-0
Show other formats
Discover what to read next