November 11, 2020 8:36 AM EST

Why do we have addresses? The question is at the center of Deirdre Mask’s book, which is an impressive examination of the origins of street names around the world. Mask, a lawyer and academic, reveals that addresses hold greater and more nefarious purposes than the accurate distribution of mail. She picks apart street names in Germany, the Caribbean, the U.S. and beyond to argue that addresses organize people not only by where they live, but also by who they are. It’s a damning look at the intersection of place, power and identity, tied together through Mask’s absorbing and thoughtful voice.

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