Books: City Boy

SKETCHES FROM LIFE: THE EARLY YEARS

by Lewis Mumford

Dial; 500 pages; $19.95

"The Port of New York became my Walden Pond," Lewis Mumford recalls in this luminous autobiography. It still is. With unflagging energy and unfailing memory, Mumford, 86, assumes the tone of an urban Thoreau, ransacking the familiar for overlooked truths. His principal turf is the city; his main object of study, himself. Born in 1895 in Flushing, Queens, raised in the precincts of turn-of-the-century Manhattan, educated at City College and the New York Public Library, Mumford was ideally prepared to become...

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