Roger Friedland is a cultural sociologist who studies love, sex, and God. Professor of Religious Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and New York University, he is also the coauthor of The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship (with Harold Zellman). He lives with his wife in Santa Barbara, California. Harold Zellman, a historian of modernist architecture and communitarian movements, is the principal of Harold Zellman and Associates, a Los Angeles architecture firm.
Few architects have gained the level of professional achievement and popular notoriety of Frank Lloyd Wright, who's as famed for his bullheadedness, abuse of underlings, condescension to his clients and his numerous wives as he is for his indisputable masterpieces of American architecture. In their biography, Friedland and Zellman skim over the typical historiography and gleefully delve into Wright's secrets and scandals, focusing on the cultish atmosphere, the mystical teachings and especially, the sexual indiscretions at Taliesin, his studio-commune where he commanded a near-messianic following. There are no major revelations, but the narrative is riveting, endowing its historical characters with all the drama of contemporary tabloid celebrities. However, heavy reliance on the dusty and probably skewed memories of interviewees produces some anecdotes that sound more like exaggerated cocktail gossip than historic fact. Occasionally, the authors use awkward psychoanalysis to account for Wright's architectural practices, such as interpreting his prairie houses' lack of basements or attics as an attempt to erase the painful memories he suffered in those spaces as a child. While the book may appeal to those more curious about the man than his achievements, readers may find the focus on all the indiscretions at Taliesin underwhelming. (Sept. 1) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"First to treat the Taliesin Fellowship as a whole -- its origin, its workings and its inner life."--Wall Street Journal "[A] blockbuster...packed [with] plenty of sex and surprises. ...This book has a lot of news."--Capital Times "The Fellowship both fascinates and infuriates. You can't top the material for richness: genius, sex, spirituality, madness, money, mania."--USA Today "Authoritative and eminently readable...uncover[s] the sometimes strange, sometimes scandalous, always tumultuous atmosphere in which Wright created his pioneering designs."--Robert C. Twombly, author of Frank Lloyd Wright: His Life and His Architecture "A mesmerizing account of the drama that compelled the great architect...to greater accomplishments...and the cost of that success."--Ken Burns, award-winning director of The Civil War, Jazz, and Frank Lloyd Wright "Just when you thought there was nothing new to be learned about the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, a massive, gossipy and yet compulsively readable new book proves you wrong. . . .Friedland and Zellman break new ground with dozens of firsthand interviews that illuminate the crucial role of the apprentices--and of his regl last wife, Olgivanna--in shaping the second half of the architect's storied and controversial career."--Chicago Sun-Times "This book replaces Wright the demigod with Wright the man...[A] new--and truer--picture of Frank Lloyd Wright."--Alan Hess, author of Frank Lloyd Wright: The Houses "An extraordinary and disquieting tale...that captures the strange, shadowy and all-too-human world that can gather around genius."--Mark Stevens, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of de Kooning "Fascinating...good history. And a ripping read."--Architect's Newspaper "Sheds light on the forgotten men and women who played so important a role in bringing...[Wright's] conceptions to reality."--Franklin Toker, author of Fallingwater Rising "Compelling."--Kirkus Reviews