The Great Great Wall: Along the Borders of History from China to Mexico (Hardcover)

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About the Author


Ian David Volner is an architectural historian and design critic. His previous books include Michael Graves: Design for Life and This Is Frank Lloyd Wright. He has traveled to far-flung places like the Caucasus Mountains, the townships of South Africa, and the slums of Panama City to write for the Wall Street Journal, the New Republic, Artforum, and more.

Praise For…


“One of the successes of [The Great Great Wall] is the way it steers clear from being a flash-in-the-pan title . . . To the chorus of opinions tackling the humanitarian, policy-related, political, economic, or environmental arguments about the proposed U.S.-Mexico wall, Volner’s is a welcome voice. From his vantage point in architectural journalism, he is able to take a long view, incorporating those subjects and questioning just what such a wall would mean.”

— Architectural Digest

“Ian Volner’s timely and highly readable book on ancient and modern walls provides a valuable backdrop to Donald Trump’s insistence on a barrier across America’s southern border. Volner’s book illustrates the difference between needed historical impediments to external dangers and Trump’s unconvincing demand for a wall.”

— Robert Dallek

“Ian Volner's The Great Great Wall is a work of literary alchemy that transmutes the wall, a simple architectural structure, and of late, political metaphor, into a prism through which to view the panorama of human history. From biblical Jericho to medieval European fortresses to America's poorly understood southern border, this book will amaze, delight, and enchant even the most jaded nonfiction aficionado.”

— William J. Bernstein

“Using the U.S.-Mexico border as a starting point, Ian Volner goes on a global journey to some of history’s most significant walls – China, Berlin, and even Jericho – weaving together a fascinating account of their foundational myths and current realities. Moving seamlessly between the past and present, this book provides much-needed context and insightful reflections on why societies build barriers, and their ultimate cost, at a time when wall-building has once again become a political priority.”

— Carrie Gibson

“Volner undertakes a personal, global odyssey, crossing time and space to visit the walls that mankind has raised over millennia, starting with the ancient Israelites and the invention of difference. The underpinning of his research—why do we build walls and what do they reveal about us?—feels ever more prescient with each day.”

— Cultured Magazine
Product Details
ISBN: 9781419732829
ISBN-10: 141973282X
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Publication Date: June 11th, 2019
Pages: 304