Last Harvest

From Cornfield to New Town: Real Estate Development from George Washington to the Builders of the Twenty-First Century, and Why We Live in Houses Anyway

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About The Book

When Witold Rybczynski first heard about New Daleville, it was only a developer's idea, attached to ninety acres of cornfield an hour and a half west of Philadelphia. Over the course of five years, Rybczynski met and talked to everyone involved in the building of this residential subdivision -- from the developers to the township leaders, whose approval they needed, to the home builders and engineers and, ultimately, the first families who moved in.

Always eloquent and illuminating, the award-winning author of Now I Sit Me Down looks at this "neotraditional" project, with its houses built close together to encourage a sense of intimacy and community, and explains the trends in American domestic architecture -- from where we place our kitchens and fences to why our bathrooms get larger every year.

Last Harvest was voted one of the ten best books of 2008 by the editors of Planetizen, and as Publishers Weekly said, "Rybczynski provides historical and cultural perspectives in a style reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell, debunking the myth of urban sprawl and explaining American homeowners' preference for single-family dwellings."

About The Author

Photo Credit: Michael Cooper

Witold Rybczynski has written about architecture and urbanism for The New York Times, Time, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book Home and the award-winning A Clearing in the Distance, as well as The Biography of a Building, The Mysteries of the Mall, and Now I Sit Me Down. The recipient of the National Building Museum’s 2007 Vincent Scully Prize, he lives with his wife in Philadelphia, where he is emeritus professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (May 13, 2008)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743235976

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Raves and Reviews

"Compelling...wonderfully readable...Last Harvest explains why America looks the way it does." - The Wall Street Journal

"Terrific...Steeped in historical knowledge." - USA Today

"A rich history of U.S. development, from the Founding Fathers to the dreamers who conceived the first automobile suburbs in the early part of the last century and on to today's foot soldiers in the movement called New Urbanism." - BusinessessWeek

"Understanding the business of real estate requires an appreciation of its many aesthetic, economic, historical, physical, political, psychological, structural, and countless other aspects, and Last Harvest is a primer on them all." - Henry Petroski, author of Successess through Failure: The Paradox of Design

"From the initial planning to the home construction to the selling of properties, the five-year project was a challenge for everyone involved, and the author was there every step of the way. Woven into his story are reflections on how American architectural tastes have changed throughout history and how we balance our individuality with [the] need for community." - Jennifer Caesar, New York Post

"Entertaining and frequently enlightening." - Penelope Green, The New York Times Book Review

"Rybczynski is a graceful, personable writer whose considerable erudition is in service to his storyteller's curiosity." - Lloyd Rose, The Washington Post

"Rybczynski has written about the world of American architecture with a simple, rare clarity." - Annie Dawid, The Oregonian

"Rybczynski has a prose style so well designed, even dry bits of design history are as absorbing as a down-filled sofa." - David Colman, The New York Times

"Rybczynski provides historical and cultural perspectives in a style reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell, debunking the myth of urban sprawl and explaining American homeowners' preference for single-family dwellings." - Publishers Weekly

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