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Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195049831
ISBN-10: 0195049837
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"A compelling narrative.... Jackson traces the consequences of the predominantly North American process [of suburbanization] through three centuries of technological, economic and social innovation."--Philadelphia Inquirer


About the Author

Kenneth T. Jackson, Professor of History at Columbia University, is the author of The Ku Klux Klan in the City, 1915-1930; Cities in American History; and a number of other books.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (April 16, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195049837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195049831
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.9 x 5.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is obviously a classic of urban-studies literature and a lot of people have said a lot of good things about it.
One thing to keep in mind when considering this book, however, is that (contrary to what others have said) it is *not* a history of suburbanization through the end of the 20th century. It is much more an explanation of the roots of 20th century suburbanization -- as they took form in the 19th century.
The author does an excellent job of explaning the cultural and technological conditions that existed in the 19th century which made the move the the perifery seem attractive and, above all, logical. Today, in the 21st century, we have a difficult time placing oursleves in the shoes of the aspiring 19th century home-owner. We get stuck on the question "How could they just leave their cities to rot?" This book takes us back to show us the ideals, hopes and dreams of the 19th cenury burghers -- which the author also expertly contrasts to 19th-century realities. In this way, Jackson shows us how the move to a tract-house on a winding lane named after a tree could only seem like the conquest of the new-world utopia to the train-hopping clerks who first embraced suburbia.
The brightest examples of these cultural trends are the author's description of the rising symbolic importance of the garden, as well as his emphasis on the media-images associated with the new "old" country gentry. Overall, he describes an America (ironically) in search of its "country" roots, while in the midst of the greatest urban/industrial boom the world has ever known.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's an acknowledged classic in the field of Urban History, but it's twenty years old and the last quarter of Crabgrass reads like it. Delores Hayden has covered the same ground in her more recent "Building Suburbia". The approach is hisorical, Jackson takes each period of suburbanization in chronological order. In terms of explanation for why America is so surburban, he focuses on government policy and the unique characteristics of the american middle class mind. Also, the fact that land is cheap is important. Readers may want to check out Building Suburbia for a more recent treatment of the same subject.
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Format: Hardcover
Very illuminating study of the growth of suburbia in American history. However, the book is not without flaws. The editing of this book is rather poor (ie. the balloon house construction method is referred to as ballroom construction method) with at least a dozen typos, probably due to the fact that the author suffered the loss of a teen-aged son in a car wreck just as he was finishing the book. He devotes little time to the radical demographic changes in suburbia since World War Two, a situation leading to a barren lack of continuity in suburban towns. The author shies away from most racial causes of the rise of suburbia and urban ethnic and racial transformations. Still, Professor Jackson brings to life what most Americans consider a mundane, dull subject. This is a job well done- I wish he'd write another.
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Format: Paperback
Crabgrass Frontier is a thorough investigation of America's shift from industrial urban living to the semi-country suburban world sought as the American Dream by many modern Americans. Anyone how practices as a developer or builder should read this book. Unfortunately it would not change the thinking of most people deeply rooted in the current developer/builder practices, but it may sway some in the field and others, like myself, who are planning to enter the development world towards a more ethically responsible practice. In general, Crabgrass Frontier does a superb job identifying the factors, many of these immoral and illegal, that persuaded an entire country to strive for the Ozzie and Harriet lifestyle with the suburban cottage with white picket fence and a new Oldsmobile in the drive. There are many surprising facts related to the government's role in investing in the homogeneously white middle-class suburban developments that are now commonplace throughout our country. It is an excellent book that should be read and shared with others.
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Format: Paperback
Crabgrass Frontiers explores the development of American cities and suburbs in the late 19th up to the late 20th century. Jackson describes how innovations in transportation, including horse trolleys, steam-powered rail, and others including the private automobile, have helped shape the urban landscape. He also describes how as the cities expanded, minorities and the impoverished became "trapped" in the inner city, cut off by superhighways that speed suburbanites from bedroom communities in the suburbs to their offices in the central business district in the city core.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This book wonderfully illustrates the step-by-step evolution of American cities and suburbs to arrive at where we are now. The author gives considerable thought to cause and effect, and incorporates race, age, historical events, and technological advances in his explanation of urban/suburban history. Part of the enjoyment of reading this book is the concise, organized, colorful account of our society's history. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history, or wondering how our cities changed over the past 150+ years.
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Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States
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