In their efforts to find a safe, quiet, traffic- and crime-free place to live, more and more Americans are turning to gated communities--self-enclosed developments barricaded off from surrounding neighborhoods, often using security guards to prevent intruders and screen visitors, sometimes even privatizing services traditionally left to local government. In Fortress America
, authors Edward Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder analyze what this gating trend--what they call "forting up"--portends for America as a whole. "What is the measure of nationhood when the divisions between neighborhoods require guards and fences to keep out other citizens? When public services and even local government are privatized, when the community of responsibility stops at the subdivision gates, what happens to the function and the very idea of a social and political democracy? Can the nation fulfill its social contract in the absence of social contact?"
Their answer, unfortunately, is no. Blakely and Snyder argue that gating further divides our already fragmented society; it isolates segments of a community from one another and does nothing to address the social problems that barricades attempt to shut out. Instead, they suggest using crime prevention, traffic control, and community-building efforts to achieve the same effects. In Fortress America, Blakely and Snyder have produced a trenchant analysis that's only slightly marred by its wooden prose. Anyone concerned about the future of American communities should read this book.
From Library Journal
Since the late 1980s, gated communities have proliferated around the country, attracting millions of homebuyers of all ages for reasons having to do with prestige, leisure, and perceived safety. In this thorough, well-argued book, which appeared in an earlier, abbreviated form as a working paper from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Blakely (dean, Sch. of Urban and Regional Planning, Univ. of Southern California) and Snyder (city and regional planning, Univ. of California, Berkeley) take strong exception to the rationales for such communities They argue that while gated communities promise seclusion and quiet, they are in fact exclusionary and that, surprisingly, they do not result in an improved sense of community. Although this book will appeal primarily to urban planners and other social scientists, its moral tone, sense of justice, and relative lack of technical jargon allow it to be recommended for general readers.?Ellen Gilbert, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, N.J.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.