The Address Book

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

audio cd

Published April 14, 2020 by Brilliance Audio.

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4 stars (5 reviews)

An exuberant work of popular history: the story of how streets got their names and houses their numbers, and why something as seemingly mundane as an address can save lives or enforce power.

In a 2013 article for The Atlantic, Deirdre Mask documented the efforts by West Virginia to give addresses to all its rural residents, allowing them access to goods and services they never had, whether it was a box from Amazon or state benefits. Mask’s research for that article plunged her into the fascinating history of addresses, taking her from ancient Rome to 19th century New York City to present day Korea. We learn that the practice of numbering individual houses began in 18th century Vienna by Maria Theresa, leader of the Hapsburg Empire, not for helping her subjects navigate the city or receive mail, but rather to tax them and draft them into her military. In 19th …

4 editions

Didn’t live up to its promise

3 stars

This book did make me think much more about addresses. A couple of the wide-ranging chapters made me think and taught me interesting history and made me think (for instance, the invention of numbers in the Austrian Empire and their implications). But others seemed to be stretching it, and treading familiar ground at great length (a brief history of apartheid and how streets named for confederate generals are controversial).

Review of 'The address book : what street addresses reveal about identity, race, wealth, and power' on 'GoodReads'

5 stars

very fun to read! I was surprised it felt a bit disjointed as each chapter is pretty separate. But this book is filled with fun histories and the author is clearly super smart, both noticable from her elegant style and diction, as well as her nuanced takes on history and politics.

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3 stars
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5 stars