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The Address Book


Deirdre Mask


An exuberant work of popular history: why something as seemingly mundane as an address can save lives or serve the powerful.

A TIME Magazine Must-Read Book of 2020

'Deirdre Mask's book was just up my Strasse, alley, avenue and boulevard.' -Simon Garfield, author of Just My Type

'Fascinating ... intelligent but thoroughly accessible ... full of surprises' - Sunday Times

When most people think about street addresses they think of parcel deliveries, or visitors finding their way. But who numbered the first house, and where, and why? What can addresses tell us about who we are and how we live together?

Deirdre Mask looks at the fate of streets named after Martin Luther King, Jr., how ancient Romans found their way, and why Bobby Sands is memorialised in Tehran. She explores why it matters if, like millions of people today, you don't have an address.

From cholera epidemics to tax hungry monarchs, Mask discovers the different ways street names are created, celebrated, and in some cases, banned. Full of eye-opening facts, fascinating people and hidden history, this book shows how addresses are about identity, class and race. But most of all they are about power: the power to name, to hide, to decide who counts, who doesn't, and why.

'A must read for urbanists and all those interested in cities and modern economic and social life.' - Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class

Deirdre Mask graduated from Harvard College summa cum laude, and attended the University of Oxford before returning to Harvard for law school, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She completed a master's in writing at the National University of Ireland. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Guardian. Originally from North Carolina, she has taught at Harvard and the London School of Economics.

Category:  Popular Science
ISBN:  9781781259016
Publisher:  Profile Books
On sale:  May 2021
List price:  R275 
Format:  Paperback
eBook ISBN 
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