The "X" in the title of Andrew Shanken's book refers to the unknown year that would mark the end of the Second World War. The stateside creators of what Shanken describes as "a kind of V-day for the built environment" (1) were convinced that the war would be over before the 1940s were through. This optimism, which suffused the home front in this period, is a keynote of Shanken's book. Reeling from the economic austerities of the Depression and the material restrictions of the war, architecture survived this professional double whammy by, in essence, ignoring it. Rather than dwelling on the lack of opportunities for building in the present, the profession looked toward the future, imagining a time when they might start to build again. Planning for this specific postwar moment, along with the rhetoric and discourse that surrounded it and...

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