It's Not a Beach Book

But it's probably the closest that a history of historic preservation could come.

A fascinating read, Anthony M. Tung's "Preserving the World's Great Cities" tells the global story of cities and the events and people that made or destroyed parts of them.

It is the story of 20 cities: of Rome that has "twice been the center of the universe"; of Warsaw where citizens defied the Nazis to painstakingly rebuild their past; of Beijing, Cairo, ... - the story of the need to balance growth and the allure of a better future with the cultural and historic continuum.

As author Anthony M. Tung, who served on the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission from 1979 to 1988, points out, "90 to 95% of the built world was constructed in the past 100 years. For the most part, we never really needed to destroy the beauty of the past in order to achieve this."

"In our minds, historic center cities seem larger that they actually are, perhaps because their beauty fills our mind with memorable architectural images as in Beijing, Venice, Paris, Jerusalem, Amsterdam. Why tear them down? We are erasing the cultural diversity of human history. The challenge is: How to build in confluence with the beauty we have inherited?"

Memphis is not mentioned by Tung's "Preserving the World's Great Cities," but what an opportunity our historic neighborhoods, buildings, and public spaces give us to become one.

Click HERE for an interview with Tung in "Architectural Record".