Book Review: The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power by Deirdre Mask (Three Stars)
“House numbers exist not to help you find your way, but rather to help the government find you.”
Entertaining book about the evolution and impact of house addresses. Unfortunately marred by several agendas which have little to do with the subject. Lots of emotion, suggestion, and fabrication.
“The employers’ blatant discrimination is based in part on mistaken views of who the homeless really are.”
Unfortunately, Mask often strays from facts into assumptions and opinion. Opinions are fine if presented as such.
“If they couldn’t number you, if they couldn’t conscript you, if they couldn’t see you, they didn’t own you—you really were a free man.”
How does it merit three stars? Lots of good, if trivial facts among the politics. Mostly because Mask’s concerns are well-founded, if not well presented.
“We don’t know what the near future is going to look like—technologically or politically. Change seems to come more outrageously every year. And the more things change, the more we feel the need to anchor ourselves to the past. Street addresses have become one way to remember.”
I know that ‘they’ can tell a lot about you from your address – and make a whole lot of assumptions that might have some statistical merit. But it also makes it possible to get mail and packages to you. ‘The yellow house at the end of the lane’ isn’t very reassuring to a mail carrier.
Reasons for working on the prejudices and assumptions, not for getting rid of house numbers!