Critics Love The Man in the Glass House

I spent nine years working on my biography of Philip Johnson, so I’m not gonna lie, all of the positive reviews have been tremendously gratifying. To have it compared to the Power Broker, the book that made me want to write about architecture, is about as good as it can get. A sampler:

“In ‘The Man in the Glass House,’ Mark Lamster’s brisk, clear-eyed new biography of Johnson, we are asked to contemplate why the impresario of twentieth-century architecture descended into such a morass of far-right politics—and how, given the depths to which he fell, he managed to clamber his way not just out of it, but to the top.”
The New Yorker

“A judicious, jargon-free biography that’s unafraid to name Johnson’s virtues and vices, in architecture and in life.”
The Wall Street Journal

“To say this is the biography Johnson deserves is no compliment to him. Gracefully and unflinchingly, Lamster depicts the long-lived American modernist poster boy as a man of great strengths inseparable from his even greater flaws — his hunger for self-promotion; his sympathy for the Nazis, notwithstanding his homosexuality, his flexibility with clients, and rigidity in style. Just as importantly, Lamster uses him to point up the amorality of the modernists — social visionaries with massive blind spots, indebted to power and money no matter who had it.”
New York Magazine

“A biography that not only raises the bar for writing with nuance about difficult historical figures, but also offers an eye-opening glimpse into architecture’s transformation from a staid and upwardly mobile white-collar profession to the deeply unequal and star-studded spectacle it is today. Glass House tackles the myths and enigmas of Johnson’s life, and of a supposedly egalitarian architectural culture, in one fell swoop.”
The Nation

“[Lamster] imagined his project as analogous to The Power Broker, Robert Caro’s life of the New York civic official Robert Moses…Remarkably, The Man in the Glass House lives up to that comparison. It reads like a novel, and the story manages to capture huge swaths of 20th-century life.”
—The Toronto Globe and Mail

“‘I can’t stand truth. It gets so boring, you know, like social responsibility,’ Johnson states in an unattributed quote. Lamster’s biographical subject never fully recovers from his own declaration in this thoroughly researched and highly readable volume that vividly captures the essence of a complex and disturbing character.”
Architectural Record

“Lamster is clear-eyed about [Johnson’s] legacy and justly critical. His readable, meticulously researched book spans the history of modernism in the United States, illuminating Johnson’s part in many of its successes – and its failures.”

“Mark Lamster’s dazzling portrait of Philip Johnson narrates the rise and fall of every architectural movement of the 20th century refracted through one man’s ambition, while providing an analysis, and an indictment, of how power in America is gained, wielded, and squandered. In The Man in the Glass House, Lamster takes a protagonist who is compromised in every possible way–morally, politically, and aesthetically–places him squarely at the intersection of American commerce and culture, and dares us to watch what happens.”
Fast Company

“Lamster has a journalist’s gift for the memorable phrase [that] makes his book enjoyable to read….It is Lamster’s willingness to explore the mechanics of constructing and managing an artistic persona that makes The Man in the Glass House such a worthwhile and rewarding inquiry into Johnson’s life and career.”
Texas Architect

“In this smart, engaging biography, Mark Lamster depicts contradictory, influential “starchitect” Philip Johnson and his times in their full complexity.”
Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“rich, authoritative, compulsively readable new biography….Lamster’s sentences can leap tall buildings, if not in a single bound (though the short sentences are leveling), then with an alloy of structure and purpose his subject could only have envied.”
Bay Area Reporter

“Engrossing…a dynamic composite sketch, one that shifts throughout Johnson’s numerous (and ludicrous and troubling) ideological transformations. As Lamster reveals, Johnson’s power, a flak jacket of wealth and wit, saved him again and again.”

“Lamster’s book is a gripping and fair-minded account of an architect who always placed himself at the centre and changed the face of the US — not always for the better.”
Financial Times, best book of 2018

“Lamster’s book is one that doesn’t shy away from wondering, in 2018, how much we can truly separate the man from his art”
Smithsonian Magazine, best book of 2018

“A surprising story of an incredible, if incorrigible, man who shaped the America we live in today”
D Magazine

“More than just a memoir…this book is in fact a revelation.”

“Exceptional…Mark Lamster’s new biography of Philip Johnson, ‘The Man in the Glass House’ is likely to remain THE reference work for years on the contradictory, jaded, insecure and driven designer, perhaps the most influential in modern American architecture and certainly one of the biggest to shape North Texas cityscapes – for good AND bad.”
KERA’s Art & Seek

“The book is a valuable account of Philip Johnson’s life, but it also goes beyond being an individual’s biography, setting an example for the historical treatment of flawed geniuses.”

“Lamster’s deep dive into the life and career of Philip Johnson pays off in spades.”
Architects’ Newspaper, best book of 2018

“The Man in the Glass House reads like an Ayn Rand plot rewritten by Henry James.It is as enjoyable and informative to read Lamster’s descriptions of the buildings he loves as it is of those he hates.”
Harvard Magazine

“Lamster’s deep, deep research means these and other happenings in Johnson’s life are illuminated with facts and stories that humanize the myths, that make them real parts of a real life. That the stories of Johnson’s long yet busy life are told in a way that makes the book hard to put down surely doesn’t hurt….thoroughly and beautifully told.”