Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City Paperback – January 22, 2013
2016 Book Awards
Browse award-winning titles. See all 2016 winners
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
“The Great Inversion is a must read for anyone concerned with American cities, urbanism, and the future of the way we live. . . . The future of the city is the future of America and the world. Alan Ehrenhalt shows us how a desire for urbanism is bringing people back to America’s downtowns, and what suburbs and communities of all sorts must do to thrive in the future.”
—Richard Florida, author of Who’s Your City?
“[Ehrenhalt’s] provocative, nuanced examination of the dynamics of change encourages the reader to apply his insights to cities closer to home. . . . Alan Ehrenhalt’s fascinating new book, The Great Inversion . . . finds that American cities are doing a very un-American thing: reshaping themselves in the mold of European capitals, where the privileged live in the city center, orbited by rings of immigrants and other strivers in the poorer suburbs”
“Fascinating. . . . A convincing case. . . . Mr. Ehrenhalt’s travels have given him a front-row view of ‘The Great Inversion.’ . . . Alan Ehrenhalt has traveled to towns and cities across the land and witnessed firsthand the early stages of what surely will be nothing short of a social transformation.”
—The Washington Times
“[A] mix of sharp-eyed observation and analysis. . . . Weaving census and public-opinion data throughout, Ehrenhalt displays the same narrative and reporting skills he put to good use in The Lost City.”
“Ehrenhalt takes his reader on a tour of the changing American cityscape . . . An enjoyable and engaging read, especially for those considering a move back to the city . . . Solidly researched with great questions asked and plenty of hard facts and anecdotal answers provided.”
—Christian Science Monitor
“Books about cities tend to be polemics. An author decides what’s right and wrong about how we live, then marshals anecdotes and rhetoric to buttress the case. There’s another way to approach the topic: in person and on foot, following one’s instincts but open to nuance along the way. Alan Ehrenhalt follows that path, to our benefit, in his new book The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City. . . . Ehrenhalt’s sympathies are with movements like new urbanism and smart growth, but these sympathies don’t blur his sharp eye for details or the wry clarity of his prose.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“The Great Inversion and the United Nations agree; the world is becoming more urban by the day . . . To Ehrenhalt’s credit, he does not pass moral judgment on the process. With clear prose that is both informative and entertaining, he objectively states the facts (and presents a great number of voices from immigrant businessmen and local civil servants to politicians from Elite African-American families and developers), leaving his readers free to render their own verdict.”
—Joshua Bloodworth, Dominion of New York
“Most writers on cities are either cheerleaders or naysayers. Ehrenhalt is neither, and he has written a balanced, hard-hitting book that is a persuasive forecast of our complex urban future.”
—Witold Rybczynski, author of Makeshift Metropolis
“[The Great Inversion] is a serious, provocative, and gracefully written, and consistently interesting look at how the urban-suburban balance is shifting.”
—Better! Cities & Towns
“The author’s historical perspective helps shape his provocative view.”
If you’re the author, publisher, or rights holder of this book, let ACX help you produce the audiobook.Learn more.
Top Customer Reviews
The author begins with a tour through 19th century Paris and Vienna and then moves chapter by chapter through different American cities or clusters of similar cities and their attempts to stave off decline or simply revitalize. Some will criticize the absence of sweeping praise or condemnation. For me, this is a pleasant aspect of the book. It is a completely readable text for all audiences, served up with fair critiques of the New Urbanists and the current American suburban mindset with all its contradictions.
The author's research is most fascinating with his projections about the make-up of the future vibrant cities. One would have suspected them to have been simply class oriented, but according to the author they will also be very skewed ethnically. This would be a significant and ground-shifting movement which will have implications on political systems, school systems, economics and the city as we have grown accustomed to it.
The dilemmas confronting cities over how to attract people to an urban core as well as how to urbanize suburban areas are very interesting, and as the other reviewer noted, the author is very even-handed in his treatment of life-style preferences regarding cars, density, etc. (In this sense he is unlike the suburban advocate Joel Kotkin, who often writes with a sneer about the urbanists he disagrees with.)
I currently live in urban San Francisco with two small children, so the issues discussed here were very relevant. We can't afford to buy a house here, or at least one we would want in a neighborhood we would like. I'm going to be moving to Los Angeles soon, and this book helped me think about what I value in a future house, neighborhood, and commute down in that area.
Among my favorite chapters were those in which Ehrenhalt chronicled and assessed the fall and rise of the Clarendon section of Arlington, brought about by the by arrival of Vietnamese shop and restaurant owners to properties emptied out by the disorder and loss of business due to Metro construction, and the continuing death spiral of the urban shipwreck that is Philadelphia, or, as some locals call it, "Bostroit," for its unique 18th-century core in close proximity to areas of utter blight, drug dens, and boarded up row houses, all a result of the rapid post-industrial loss of manufacturing and port services. And yes, sports fans, Ehrenhalt lingers for a while on an aspect of Philly most of you will recognize, as "the only large American city in which no one is surprised when parade watchers boo Santa Claus, where fans boo their sports teams for failing to win a second consecutive championship, or where grandmothers at the stadium insult spectators who happen to be wearing the wrong jersey.Read more ›
Ehrenhalt proceeds to examples of successes and failures across the country examining revitalized neighborhoods in cities like New York and Chicago; looking at the alternatives for inner suburbs in Cleveland, Atlanta, Denver, and Washington, D.C.; analyzing attempts by sprawl cities like Houston and Phoenix to define a central city; looking at the realities of New Urbanists to create models from Seaside, Florida to Tyson's Corner, Maryland.
This book is a delight to read because it feels like it is written by a realist rather than a dreamer -- someone who enjoys a cup of coffee on the sidewalk outside a cafe while observing the street scene and talking to people passing by. He doesn't criticize or advocate, he describes and raises questions about what it means.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting topic, but I didn't find the author's evidence very compelling.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Too bad that what finally drives the American young back to the city is their inability to get a job that pays enough to own a car. Read morePublished 3 months ago by owen
Excellent, thoughtful book about the current transition going on in metro areas across the country. Not a booster for the phenomenon nor an opponent, the author is rather a... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Brendan
It became a little redundant after a while, but the main concepts of it were very intriguing and very helpful. Cities evolve just as species and countries evolve. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Flicker
Excellent read and it's simple and straightforward for someone who is new to the subjectPublished 9 months ago by Mackenzie
Clear explanation of current development trends without the bloat of professional journals. All you need to invest in urban real estate.Published 9 months ago by nokidding
One of the very best studies of urban change and adaption that I have read. The writing is so lively and entertaining. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Cy Yoakam