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Credit: Noah Kalina

Toward the end of his life, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903) lived in an asylum for which he designed the grounds. This is coincidental, but not inconceivable, as Olmsted’s landscaping and land-preservation reach was countrywide—from New England college campuses to California’s Yosemite National Park. Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted by Justin Martin is part exposé of the man, part history of Americans subduing the U.S. terra firma. • $30; Da Capo Press, June 2011