This book is highly recommended for a deeper understanding of Hamilton's developments and for giving context to local newspaper articles on current issues.
By Joy Jones
Published December 30, 2013
I'm always pleased whenever I actually manage to read a whole book in the same year it's published. Somehow, temporarily, I feel as though I'm inhabiting a moment of the so-called present rather than striving to catch up or hurry forward. So I'm quite happy that I finished Hamilton: Brutal Beauty, Hidden Heritage Guide before the end of 2013.
Fortunately, despite the long title which I now take the liberty of abbreviating, Hamilton BBHH Guide is really quite short at scarcely 100 pages. Factor in almost 150 photographs and over 40 maps ... well, I suppose I can't take much credit for finishing such an easy read.
What impressed me about the ease of reading was the realization that the author, Ian Dunlop, had obviously done all the hard work of curating content - and a lot of it at that - to create such a cohesively informative guidebook.
Mr. Dunlop published Hamilton BBHH Guide as his Masters thesis project. Now, to be frankly stereotypical, seeing a book's preface page start with "This Major Research Project" in capital letters and end with "University of Waterloo", I expected an astonishing amount of technical information. In this regard, the book delivers!
Hamilton BBHH Guide definitely benefits from Mr Dunlop's scholarly presentation of the city. The text is both densely detailed and concisely focused on the theme he's chosen: infrastructure as the foundation for explaining Hamiltonian history and progress.
He deftly explores the interplay between transportation, architecture, geography, history, economics, renewal and growth. The neat trick is that he writes it all in a very clear, informal, easy-reading style.
In addition to the written info, Hamilton BBHH Guide showcases Dunlop's professional expertise in mapping and design. More than forty maps present Hamilton's geographic details very comprehensibly with clear labels, highlighted points of interest and excellent legends. With an eye to presenting relevant visual information, the author's use of various map styles is impressive.
Rounding out the text and maps, this guidebook is filled with photographs that are cropped to show some really charming vignettes and cityscapes. Many close-ups reveal a way of seeing that quietly celebrates Hamilton's architectural history through iconic images.
These photos are balanced nicely with other snapshots of less obvious details that give texture to the city. Almost all the photographs are cross-referenced extensively with the maps and text (watch out, Eyewitness Guidebooks).
In addition to the index, as expected of a "Major Research Project" there are three pages of references in really tiny print for those interested in further information. For this reader, the easy-read version of Hamilton BBHH Guide was more than sufficient for 2013.
Hamilton BBHH Guide is highly recommended for a deeper understanding of Hamilton's developments and for giving context to local newspaper articles on current issues.
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