What's the best Frederick Law Olmsted biography out there?
April 2, 2024 2:07 PM   Subscribe

I see SO MANY biographies out there about this dude and can't decide! Looking for the most well-written and comprehensive biography of Frederick Law Olmsted (basically in the style of The Power Broker).

Mostly looking for recommendations for folks who have either read a few or are in the landscape architecture field, but also anyone who wants to weigh in on what might be considered a best-in-class biography about good ol' F.L.O.

Thanks in advance!
posted by knownassociate to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I enjoyed A Clearing in the Distance by Witold Rybczynski when it came out in 1999. It's the only Olmstead biography that I've read so I don't know how it compares to others.
posted by plastic_animals at 4:03 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]

I read the Rybczynski book years ago, too. Highly recommend.
posted by briank at 6:49 PM on April 2

Do you know about the list at https://olmsted.org/fanfare-for-frederick-law-olmsted-good-reading/? A colleague recommended those as great starting points.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 7:28 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]

This is another list of books about FLO and his work.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:35 PM on April 2

Google Scholar: allintitle:"Frederick Law Olmstead"
has some interesting FLO biographies, papers and theses - if I was studying again I'd start there. There are probably ten book-length all-up and maybe four since 1960, excluding Rybczynski (which is a very good and useful book in my experience).
posted by unearthed at 9:13 PM on April 2

Thirding the Rybczynski.
posted by saladin at 3:55 AM on April 3

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