“A bicycle shed is a building. Lincoln Cathedral is a piece of architecture,” Nikolaus Pevsner famously wrote at the beginning of his Outline of European Architecture. The two books under review, both of which deal in various ways with electricity and architecture, offer compelling evidence of how far the study of architectural history has moved away from Pevsner's formulation. Beyond this, the books diverge. Sandy Isenstadt's Electric Light is a series of meditations on the way electrical lighting has altered both the built environment and our perception of it. In contrast, Palazzos of Power, with text by Aaron V. Wunsch and images by Joseph E....

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