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Emlen, Robert P., Shaker Village Views: Illustrated Maps and Landscape Drawings by Shaker Artists of the Nineteenth Century. Hanover: University Press of New England, 1987. ISBN 0-87451-397-9. 28x2lcm., ix, 198pp., illustrated, cloth. (17½ Lebanon St., Hanover, NH 03755, $35.00)

The author of this book has immersed himself in Shaker culture, and spent years tracking down drawings of Shaker towns.  The Shakers were a cult founded in 1776 at Niskayuna, New York, by eight English immigrants.  Like some modern cults, the Shakers used bodily motions to better communicate with God, thereby earning their name.  Over the years, the shakers achieved some success at attracting converts, and a number of villages were founded.  As is also typical of modern cults, the Shakers imposed uniformity upon their members, and this is reflected in their architecture and village layout.  At the cost of an immense expenditure of effort, this book brings together for study many drawings and maps by Shaker artists.  I was surprised to learn how many well-known cities had Shaker connections.  I had always thought Watervliet was just another dingy arsenal town.  Those interested in city planning and architecture will find this a valuable reference, and there are numerous nuggets of knowledge for those interested in life in 19th-century America.

David C. Jolly, 1990

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