No American who has been to a summer camp, a national park, or Disneyland is without memories of log cabins. As Alison K. Hoagland enthusiastically points out in her new book on a familiar topic, Americans from Davy Crockett to Laura Ingalls Wilder have extolled the virtues of buildings made of logs freshly cut from the forest, constructed by hardy pioneers.

Hoagland is well qualified to write about these buildings, having done stints as a National Park Service historian, professor of architectural history, and preservationist. Her 1993 book Buildings of Alaska, part of Oxford University Press's Buildings of the United States series, is full of examples of...

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