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Gallagher, Winifred. The Power of Place: How Our Surroundings Shape Our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions. New York: Poseidon Press, 1993 (240 pp.). This bookís title is a little deceptive, in that it sounds like it would be relevant for researchers interested in the historical and conceptual notions of "place," placeís role in community building, new community planning approaches like New Urbanism, and other more theoretical matters. However, although itís an interesting and quick read, there is little here that has application to the scholarly field of place studies, heritage tourism, or its role in place-making. The book reads as if Gallagher is a psychologist, and the majority of it concerns the ways in which environmental stimuli (a motherís voice, car noise, light, extreme cold or heat, a wallís color) shape us. Because of its obvious temperature and light variances, Alaska is central to her studies, and probably a fourth of the book is long quotations from scientists doing work in light depravation, altitude sickness, and related sensory fields. People who design museums and exhibits might glean something from her discussions of feng shui, and she does include a brief section on overcoming museum anxiety. Given that she spends several chapters on urban living, one might expect a discussion of contemporary architectural movements that share her behaviorist disposition, such as New Urbanism, but that is surprisingly absent. The final chapters concern the ways nature affects us; essentially she takes more than 50 pages to say we like nature and itís a good thing for us. This book could be summarized in a few words: pleasant surroundings make happier people.


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