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Better Places, Better Lives: A Biography of James Rouse Hardcover – April 1, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0874209198 ISBN-10: 0874209196 Edition: 0th
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"James Rouse—realtor, visionary, philanthropist, and urbanist—comes to life on the pages of Joshua Olsen's biography."  —Alexander Garvin, New York City Planning Commission, author, The American City: What Works, What Doesn't

About the Author

Joshua Olsen is a Fulbright Scholar and graduate of Yale University. He works for a development company in Washington, DC.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 442 pages
  • Publisher: Urban Land Institute (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874209196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874209198
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael S. McGill on January 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is a fine book, well organized and written, giving a very comprehensive account of the career of financier-developer-builder-planner James Rouse. His career spanned the most formative years of post-War American urban policy, and he was involved in most of the major initiatives that occurred. While the author does not attempt to delve deeply into what made Jim Rouse tick, he presents a thorough account of the various initiatives he undertook, his motives for doing so, and the good and bad results that ensued.

Rouse's most notable accomplishments, including the new community of Columbia, MD, and the festival marketplaces in Boston and Baltimore, by themselves warrant providing an account of his life. What is remarkable is how much more he did, in both suburban and central city environments. He also interacted with and occasionally partnered with many of the other urban visionaries during the last half of the 20th century.

I come away from reading this book with admiration for what Rouse accomplished but awareness of the limits and consequences of his work. In some respects, he demonstrated how to do very well the major new phenomena that emerged in American urban life in the post-War period, including shopping centers and suburban subdivisions, but by and large the architecture of these developments was bland and they ended up having many of the same negative consquences for American urban life that their less successful examples did. He also, to his credit, tried to tackle the negative impacts these suburban phenomena had for central city life, understandably with mixed success, ranging from major demolition and clearance projects under urban renewal, to neighborhood rehabilitation, to the festival marketplace.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a fascinating look at both the "for profit" and "not for profit" sides of the development industry. An enjoyable story of one man's life and his coontribution to this world.
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