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The address book : what our street addresses reveal about identity, race, wealth and power / Deirdre Mask.

By: Mask, Deirdre.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London, England : Profile Books, 2020Description: x, 326 pages : illustrations, maps ; 22 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781781259009; 1781259003.Subject(s): Street addresses -- Social aspects | Street names -- Social aspectsDDC classification: 338.1 Summary: Starting with a simple question, 'what do street addresses do?', Deirdre Mask travels the world and back in time to work out how we describe where we live and what that says about us. From the chronological numbers of Tokyo to the naming of Bobby Sands Street in Iran, she explores how our address, or lack of one, expresses our politics, culture and technology. It affects our health and wealth, and it can even affect the working of our brains. It's the perfect example of a seemingly insignificant aspect of your life that actually tells you all sorts of things you'd never expect. Perhaps most surprising of all, around 60% of the world's population don't have a street address and that hugely affects their quality of life, from having bank accounts to whether the emergency services are able to reach them. Mask meets the people who live without addresses and those who are trying to change that, a change that isn't always welcome. From Ancient Rome to Kolkata today, from cholera epidemics to tax hungry monarchs, Mask discovers the different ways street names are created, celebrated, and in some cases, banned. Filled with fascinating people and histories, this incisive, entertaining 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.
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Non-Fiction Davis (Central) Library
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Non-Fiction (NEST) 388.1 MAS Coming Soon

Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

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

Includes bibliographical references and index.

Starting with a simple question, 'what do street addresses do?', Deirdre Mask travels the world and back in time to work out how we describe where we live and what that says about us. From the chronological numbers of Tokyo to the naming of Bobby Sands Street in Iran, she explores how our address, or lack of one, expresses our politics, culture and technology. It affects our health and wealth, and it can even affect the working of our brains. It's the perfect example of a seemingly insignificant aspect of your life that actually tells you all sorts of things you'd never expect. Perhaps most surprising of all, around 60% of the world's population don't have a street address and that hugely affects their quality of life, from having bank accounts to whether the emergency services are able to reach them. Mask meets the people who live without addresses and those who are trying to change that, a change that isn't always welcome. From Ancient Rome to Kolkata today, from cholera epidemics to tax hungry monarchs, Mask discovers the different ways street names are created, celebrated, and in some cases, banned. Filled with fascinating people and histories, this incisive, entertaining 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.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

As Mask reveals in this debut, the concept of a street address is a marvel of social and political engineering. She starts with a journey through the slums of Kolkata, where she sees for herself the toll that the lack of an address takes on people cut off from the bureaucratic state. Physician John Snow traced the cholera epidemic in London based on a map, but for those in unmapped areas, including parts of Haiti or Liberia, epidemics are impossible to trace. Mask's explorations take her from Ancient Rome, where people could navigate by landmark, to the literal and sordid street names of medieval England and to modern Japan and Korea. Choosing and changing a street name is often the most revealing about the values of a culture. The Netherlands took one week to name a street after Martin Luther King Jr.; Atlanta took eight years. Nazi Germany and apartheid-era South Africa reveal that loss of culture, loss of identity, and loss of psychological comfort can all overlap with the name of a street. VERDICT Engaging, illuminating, and with highly relevant current subject matter, this book is recommended for all readers, especially fans of popular history and politics.--Margaret Heller, Loyola Univ. Chicago Libs.

Publishers Weekly Review

Journalist Mask's entertaining and wide-ranging debut investigates the history of street addresses and their "power to decide who counts, who doesn't, and why." A vivid storyteller, Mask describes the "multisensory maps" ancient Romans used to navigate their city and the origins of street names in medieval England (Frying Pan Alley was home to ironmongers; Booty Lane was "named either after bootmakers, Viking booty, or the Booty family"). Shifting from the historical record to the modern world, Mask documents efforts to assign street addresses in the slums of Kolkata, India, and takes readers to Japan, where cities are organized by blocks and the absence of street names makes navigation challenging. Other topics include the origins of the modern postal system, digital addresses of the future, and the difficulties faced by homeless people in an era when a home address is "a way for society to check that you are not just a person but the person you say you are." Mask's fluid narration and impressive research uncover the importance of an aspect of daily life that most people take for granted, and she profiles a remarkable array of activists, historians, and artists whose work intersects with the evolution and meaning of street addresses. This evocative history casts its subject in a whole new light. (Apr.)

Booklist Review

What's in a name? Or rather, a number? Lawyer and writer Mask's globe-trotting examination of street addresses will have readers thinking more deeply about the logistics of where they are, where they're going, and how they're able to get there. This history of the street address is filled with anecdotes, history lessons, and thought-provoking benefits and drawbacks to a system most of us take for granted: Ancient Rome managed to brilliantly flourish without addresses, while doctor John Snow pinpointed the cause of a deadly cholera outbreak in Victorian London by mapping the addresses of the afflicted. Brain scans have shown that mentally mapping a city's streets is like bodybuilding for the brain, and having a street address allows for easier voter registration and increases your likelihood of employment. From her history of the city grid to an on-the-street look at the NGO trying to give every slum in India an address, Mask leaves us with a greater appreciation of our efforts to find each other, and a peek into what the future may hold.

Kirkus Book Review

An impressive book-length answer to a question few of us consider: "Why do street addresses matter?"In her first book, Mask, a North Carolina-born, London-based lawyer-turned-writer who has taught at Harvard and the London School of Economicscombines deep research with skillfully written, memorable anecdotes to illuminate the vast influence of street addresses as well as the negative consequences of not having a fixed address. Many readers probably assume that a street address exists primarily to receive mail from the postal office, FedEx, UPS, and other carriers. Throughout this eye-opening book, the author clearly demonstrates that package deliveries constitute a minuscule part of the significance of addressesnot only today, but throughout human history. Venturing as far back as ancient times, Mask explores how the Romans navigated their cities and towns. She describes the many challenges of naming streets in modern-day Kolkata (Calcutta), India, where countless mazes of squalid alleys lack formal addresses. "The lack of addresses," writes the author, "was depriving those living in the slums a chance to get out of them. Without an address, it's nearly impossible to get a bank account"and the obstacles compound from there. Mask also delves into the controversies in South Africa regarding addresses, issues exacerbated by apartheid and its aftermath. In the U.S., one can track racist undertones via streets named for Confederate icons such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. The author offers insightful commentary regarding the fact that U.S. roadways named for Martin Luther King Jr. are usually found in poverty-stricken urban areas, and she addresses the many problems associated with homelessness. She also explores the dark period of Nazi Germany when street names identified where concentrations of Jews lived, making it easier for them to be rounded up and sent to the death camps. In a chapter prominently featuring Donald Trump, Mask explains the monetary and prestige values of specific addresses in New York City. Other stops on the author's tour include Haiti, London, Vienna, Korea, Japan, Iran, and Berlin.A standout book of sociological history and current affairs. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.