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'Of all the arts, architecture is the one that most directly affects people in their daily lives' - Prince Charles would no doubt agree with the author's introductory remarks and her subsequent assertion that 'All of us can become more aware of our surroundings, and more visually sophisticated, and learn to take an active part in the development of our environment.' In just 48 pages, she traces the history and development of world architecture from the Pyramids to the Pompidou Centre, focusing not only on the significant technical achievements, but also describing how social, religious, economic and geographical influences play their part in how buildings evolve. Eleanor Van Zandt writes knowledgeably and eloquently about her subject and reveals some fascinating tricks of the trade - for example, close study of the Parthenon has shown that its perfection is partly the result of an extermely subtle use of optical illusion. However, it's quite a demanding read. A great deal of technical detail has been included to illustrate how architects handle the two basic components of architecture: space and mass. Although an adequate glossary is included, more explantory diagrams would have been helpful. The excellent colour photographs generally complement the text quite well. The Further Reading list is fairly daunting and only serves to illustrate the dearth of suitable titles at this level.