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The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power

By: Dierdre Mask

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.

When most people think about street addresses, if they think of them at all, it is in their capacity to ensure that the postman can deliver mail or a traveler won’t get lost. But street addresses were not invented to help you find your way; they were created to find you. Addresses arose out of a grand Enlightenment project to name and number the streets, but they are also a way for people to be identified and tracked by those in power. As Deirdre Mask explains, the practice of numbering houses was popularized in eighteenth-century Vienna by Maria Theresa, leader of the Hapsburg Empire, to tax her subjects and draft them into her military. In many parts of the world, your address can reveal your race and class, causing them to be a shorthand for snobbery or discrimination. In this wide-ranging and remarkable book, Mask looks at the fate of streets named after Martin Luther King, Jr., the wayfinding means of ancient Romans, how Nazis haunt the streets of modern Germany, and why numbered streets dominate in America but not in Europe. The flipside of having an address is not having one, and we see what that means for millions of people today, including those who live in the slums of Kolkata, on the streets of London, or in post-earthquake Haiti.

Filled with fascinating people and histories, The Address Book illuminates the complex and sometimes hidden stories behind street names and their power to name,to hide, to decide who counts, who doesn’t—and why.

Notes. Index. Black-and-white illustrations.

ISBN: 9781250134769

JLG Release: Sep 2020


Sensitive Areas: Language: Strong Language
Topics: Social aspects of street addresses , Social aspects of street names , Geography , World history , Social history , Politics , Social services , Demography , Social classes

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Awards & Honors

2020 Kirkus Prize Finalist for Nonfiction

Book Details

ISBN

9781250134769

First Release

September 2020

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

388.1

Trim Size

8 3/10" x 5 2/5"

Page Count

336

Accelerated Reader

N/A

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

St. Martin's Press (Adult)

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Language: Strong Language

Topics

Social aspects of street addresses, Social aspects of street names, Geography, World history, Social history, Politics, Social services, Demography, Social classes,

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