Provides a readable exposition of Lewis Mumford's views on dozens of issues with continuous, selective reference to his published works. Elucidates Mumford's thoughts about history and its meaning, human nature and its development, science and technology, cities, art, architecture, and more. Preface; Lewis Mumford was a writer who ranged freely across the landscapes of history, literature, architecture, technology, civilization, environmentalism, public life, and the human mind. Malcolm Cowley called him "the last of the great humanists." He considered himself a generalist, and deliberately took on "the big picture" in many of his works, which is anathema to many today. Though his organic vision appears throughout his work, it may not always be apparent how the thread connects between his works. For example, what does it mean to claim that there may be a religious element in the culture of the machine? Or that art can be a surer touchstone of reality than science? Or that cities should be conceived as bio-regions? Or that we have been busily building a suicidal power complex as deadly to life, and especially human life, as it is vulnerable to sudden collapse like a house of cards?
Consider Mumford's 1970 criticism of the World Trade Center, made as it was still being built: "...a characteristic example of the purposeless giantism and technological exhibitionism that are eviscerating the living tissue of every great city...But Dinosaurs were handicapped by insufficient brains and the World Trade Center is only another Dinosaur." Thirty years later the tragedy of the September 11, 2001 attack was showed how vulnerable the power complex can be, and how deadly that building "handicapped by insufficient brains" proved itself to be for thousands of people it entombed.