Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities forever transformed the discipline of urban planning by concentrating on what actually helped cities work. Unencumbered by generations of fatuous theorizing, Jacobs proposed a model of action that has left a positive mark in neighborhoods all over the world. Her latest salvo, Dark Age Ahead, is, despite the pessimism of many of its conclusions, also positive, less a jeremiad than a firm but helpful reminder of just how much is at stake. Jacobs sees "ominous signs of decay" in five "pillars" of our culture: family, community, higher education, science and "self policing by the learned professions." Each is given a detailed treatment, with sympathetic but hard-headed real-world assessments that are often surprising and always provocative and well-expressed. Her chapter on the decline of the nuclear family completely avoids the moral hand-wringing of the kindergarten Cassandras to place the blame on an economy that has made the affordable home either an unattainable dream or a crippling debt. Her discussion of the havoc wrought by the lack of accountability seems ripped from any number of headlines, but her analysis of the larger effects sets it apart. A lifetime of unwasted experience in a number of fields has gone into this short but pungent book, and to ignore its sober warnings would be foolish indeed.
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The end of the world as we know it has inspired a lot of writing lately. With this selection, eminent architectural and city-planning scholar Jacobs (The Death and Life of Great American Cities) argues that Western civilization in general and North American society in particular are headed for a period of reconfiguration, chaos, and--perhaps most frightening--lost cultural memory: a Dark Ages for the new millennium. Jacobs examines five key load-bearing pillars of Western civilization (community and family, higher education, scientific advancement, taxation, and self-policing by learned professions) and compares their dry rot to the crumbling of earlier cultures. Getting beyond well-worn parallels between America and Rome, she also considers the respective Dark Ages of Native America and, with the help of Karen Armstrong's work on post-agrarian cultures, the Middle East. Changes in agriculture and transportation, as it turns out, are particularly important to her argument and reveal Jacobs' sound urban-studies foundation, a solid analysis of demographics that keeps this book's alarming thesis from being simply alarmist. Brendan Driscoll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Jane Jacobs always earns five stars. Interesting subject she picked for this book.Published 2 months ago by Henry Pfeifer
Not her best book by far, but still it contains a few nuggets that made it worth the read.Published 3 months ago by Fr. Tim Moyle
this is a very well written and researched book. i believe ms jacobs would be horrified at todays conditions in which one man one vote and where of the people, by the people etc... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
it is a well written book. I especially liked it because coincidentally
I live in Toronto and a good portion of the book has something
to do with it. Read more
The author warns of potential disintegration of US society due to assault from within. She noticed that 5 important underpinnings of the society had been perverted, namely the... Read morePublished on March 25, 2013 by Allegrippus
Jane Jacob's insight regarding fundamental shifts in social forces in the United States over the last sixty years is nothing short of incredible. Read morePublished on May 22, 2012 by James W. Singleton
I finally picked up a copy of this book, assuming that Jacobs might have been picking up early signals of decline. Read morePublished on November 4, 2011 by Jeff Walker