Birmingham, Alabama, still struggles with the ghosts of the 1960s, when its name became synonymous with racial strife and injustice. Two new books deal with the city's complex legacy as manifested in its architecture. One is an architectural and landscape history of exceptional breadth and insight, the other an introduction to the city's premier early-twentieth-century African American architect.

In Landscape of Transformations: Architecture and Birmingham, Alabama, Michael Fazio, emeritus professor of architecture at Mississippi State University, has produced an absorbing book, a nuanced and many-sided account of an evolving urban setting. The author quickly tells us what the book is not: “neither a guidebook nor a comprehensive survey of Birmingham's architecture” (xiii). Hence its...

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