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"Plagued by Fire" review

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:20 am
by Mark Hertzberg
I have had the opportunity to read an advance copy of Paul Hendrickson's forthcoming "Plagued by Fire" My review is now at

Mark Hertzberg

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:56 am
by Roderick Grant
I would not call that a review. It reads more like an encomium for Hendrickson.

There are a couple of interesting photos in the article, including the troubling image of Hickox with that tacked on porch. I wish that house could be as excellently restored as its neighbor.

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 1:08 pm
by SDR
Heh-heh. Perhaps our reviewer takes as his model the fawning descriptions of Wright's work---and clients---that typify Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer's text and notes in the Monographs . . . ?


Posted: Sat Apr 13, 2019 2:26 pm
by Mark Hertzberg
I have thought a lot about the comments, above, and have reread my piece. I could leave the comments alone, but I want to respond once. The book has generated a lot of discussion on Facebook and other places. I have basically written what a journalist would write: a description of how the book was written with admiration for the incredible primary research. There was no deal between Paul and me about what I could write other than that I could not reveal any specifics...that is no different than other advance reviews I have read. The others take a different tack but I wrote this as a journalist. I would hope that the skeptics about my piece would agree that I have written a fair assessment of the research after they read the book (should they choose to read it). I have alway been interested in the process of how books are written and wrote several similar pieces for my former newspaper. That is another part of my web piece: what was the genesis of the book? Did you ever think that it had been subconsciously percolating in his mind since he was nine years old? I did not. I had assumed that he came to Wright late in life. So, to me one of the relevant things which it seems has been glossed over is that Wright's designs had a profound influence on a nine-year-old boy, an influence he did not act on professionally until he was in his 60s. Isn't that kind of influence what has drawn all of us to Wright chat rooms, to Wright Facebook groups, to conferences, to having extensive Wright libraries, etc.

Posted: Sat Apr 13, 2019 2:55 pm
by SDR
Yes; that is an interesting and perhaps under-explored aspect of any Wright enthusiast's story: how and when did he or she first become aware of Wright and his work.
Each of us has a unique tale to tell in that regard; a collection of them would make a nice little book in itself . . . ?

Thanks, by the way, for new photos of Bradley and Hickox---including a unique side view of the latter, as well as excellent shots of the Bradley "light screens" in silhouette.


Posted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:58 am
by DRN
Keeping all of our discussions about the Hendrickson book linked: ... e2d7db391b

The above link has links....

The Frank LINCOLN Wright thread touched on the upcoming book as well: ... dfbfbc4281

Posted: Sun Sep 15, 2019 4:55 pm
by DavidC

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:53 am
by DavidC

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:20 am
by Tom
My pre-ordered copy from Amazon arrives this Thursday.

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:59 am
by DavidC

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:38 am
by SDR

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:38 pm
by Paul Ringstrom

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 4:00 pm
by jay
I personally have zero interest in these types of "the man behind the mask" biographies. But this NYT review is a headache as well.... Back in the day when I wrote for a music magazine, we used to say about Reviews: 'You either praise (an album) or you trash it, because nobody wants to read anything else'... But that's hardly the offensive aspect here, though I'm not surprised to see my old adage remains true.... What's striking here is the reviewer so easily makes her own allegations and generalizations about Wright, resorting to one of many versions of the 'mythology of Wright'. If Hendrickson says Wright was a flawed but redeemable human, well then the reviewer says Wright was a flawed and irredeemable human. She criticizes against the practice of evaluating the humanness of a famous figure (which I agree with), but then offers her own evaluation of said famous figure.

It's subjectivity squared.

And how about this gem:
"As in life, so in his architecture; Wright produced some beautiful objects, but he lacked genuine feeling for his fellow earthlings."

Which brings me to my other conclusion about Reviews: they often say more about the reviewer's viewpoints than the work being reviewed.

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:45 pm
by SDR
I think it's possible, in this case at least, to see past the reviewer's opinions (that's what they are, though in this case I would say grounded in some familiarity with Wright) and learn something---more certainly than we've heard so far---about the book and about the author---who apparently thinks we'll want to know all about his own introduction to Wright.

Quoting or reliably paraphrasing an author gives a direct view of the content of his book, doesn't it ?

Perhaps I found it a satisfactory introduction book because I was prepared, from previous exposure---largely via this thread---to arrive at a judgement not unlike that of the Times writer. Prejudgement of course is a trap ever ready to swallow the credulous . . .?


Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:46 pm
by SDR
Okay, I'll grant you that much of the reviewer's opinion of Wright is unnecessarily (and I believe exaggeratedly) damning; I can see how you would find
that annoying---and unnecessary, irrelevant to the job of reviewing another's work on the man.

I do rise to applaud when I read, "Often it seems that “Plagued by Fire�’s subject is as much Hendrickson’s hunches and reverential fantasies as it is
Wright’s life"---and, "Because Wright experienced emotions, some of them painful, he must be a fundamentally decent person." Applaud not Wright, not
Hendrickson, but Miss Goldhagen, that is . . .!