"This is easily the best book I have seen on why the great cathedrals were built. The breadth of Scott's scholarship is astonishing. As well as art history and architecture, he brings to bear his knowledge of subjects as wide apart as engineering, the sociology of religion, and the medieval economy. Only a handful of books truly throw light on the mystery of the cathedrals, and this is one of them."Ken Follett, author of Pillars of the Earth
"Written in a lucid style and illustrated by dozens of sketches and photographs, this interdisciplinary survey is the best introduction to its subject now in print."Gene Brucker, author of Florence: The Golden Age, 1138-1737
"Scott has given us a book of wonderful breadth and erudition with a refreshingly light touch. He describes vividly the social, political, and religious background to the great flowering of the Gothic cathedrals of Europe in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and the strange mixture of motives that drove this astonishing building program. He is equally interested in the hard practical mechanics of hewing timber, erecting scaffolding, quarrying stone, transporting and hauling these materials as he is in the religious and liturgical symbolisms and conceptual schemes of the architects and their royal paymasters. Gothic cathedrals are astounding monuments to the aspirations of the human spirit reaching out to the divine, and this is a splendid introduction to the medieval worlds that produced them, written by an enthusiastic guide who really knows his subject and loves it."Hugh Dickinson, Dean Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral
"Gothic architecture is notoriously difficult to represent verbally, but in Scott's book the joy so many people find in discovering these breathtakingly beautiful monuments is palpable."Stephen Murray, author of Notre Dame, Cathedral of Amiens: The Power of Change in Gothic
In this splendid book Scott writes precisely, clearly, and with a love for both words and his readers. Those who read these pages will come away enlightened, inspired, and with a more profound grasp of our civilization."Neil J. Smelser, University Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley
Scott (sociology, emeritus, Stanford Univ.) offers an intriguing study of the historical creation of the medieval cathedral in Europe. By not approaching his subject from the usual architectural, art historical, or medieval studies perspectives, he provides a fresh eye and an engaging entr e to how and why, for a 300-year period, Europeans created these lasting monuments. The "gothic enterprise" of cathedral building is covered in chapters devoted to the history of cathedral building and a definition of the "gothic look." Black-and-white illustrations and photographs help elucidate the author's points. Scott also examines the religious experience that generated the will to build the great churches, followed by a concluding chapter on the makeup of the European communities that did the actual work. Based on numerous secondary sources, Scott's readable introduction to the cathedral is a nice follow-up to David Macaulay's classic illustrated work, Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction. Recommended particularly for public libraries with an interest in art and architecture.-Martin R. Kalfatovic, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.