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"American Houses" by Gerald Foster is the best book I have found on recognizing and understanding North American architectural house styles. I have come to refer to it constantly and have even bought additional copies of it for my friends. Most other books of the type fail to distinguish between Georgian and New England Large House let alone illustrate the differences in the various Georgian types (New England, Mid-Atlantic, Chesapeake Bay, etc.). I could only give a rating of four stars out of a possible five, however, because of two reasons: 1] There are some very common architectural styles that I felt deserved treatment (the Foursquare, the most important Ranch styles, and what has been fairly well recognized as Contemporary, to name three. Other examples might include Eichler designs, A-Frames, Pomos, Barn Styles, and perhaps something could even be said about unstyled Folk houses--especially the gable-fronted ones). 2] Professor Foster sometimes assumes too much from his readers. On page 42, for example, he mentions continental dormers. I'm still trying to find out what those are. Still, "American Houses" by Gerald Foster is a superb reference and, I believe, essential for anyone interested in North American architectural styles. For people who merely want to stick their toe in the water and only buy one book about house styles, this would be the book. Out of so many volumes writen on the topic, only a few are worth a hang. Some are so bad that one gets the impression that their authors wouldn't know a pediment from an impediment. Not only is "American Houses" extremely authoratative, it is well structured, user-friendly, and fascinating. Moreover, it is very affordable.
Don M. Daniels
 

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