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Human Scale Paperback – August 1, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Size matters. And "progress", as it translates into sprawl, congestion, resource depletion, overpopulation, the decline of communities and the rise of corporate rule, is quite literally killing us. In his landmark work Human Scale, Kirkpatrick Sale details the crises facing modern society and offers real solutions, laying out ways that we can take control of every facet of our lives by building institutions, workplaces and communities that are sustainable, ecologically balanced, and responsive to the needs of the individual. As relevant today as when it was first published in 1980, this remarkable book provides a fascinating perspective on the last quarter-century of "growth" and anticipates by decades the current movement towards relocalization in response to the end of cheap oil.

Human Scale has been made available through New Catalyst Books. New Catalyst Books is an imprint of New Society Publishers, aimed at providing readers with access to a wider range of books dealing with sustainability issues by bringing books back into print that have enduring value in the field. For more information on New Catalyst Books click here.

(2007-08-21)

About the Author

Kirkpatrick Sale is the author of a dozen books, including After Eden: The Evolution of Human Domination, Rebels Against the Future: The Luddites and Their War on the Industrial Revolution, The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy and Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Vision. One of the pioneers of the bioregional movement, he was named by Utne Reader as one of 100 living visionaries. He is currently the Director of the Middlebury Institute-a think-tank for the study of separation, secession, and self-determination.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: New Catalyst Books (August 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897408064
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897408063
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,397,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. M. Williams on February 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
This would be on the list of the 100 books that influenced me the most.
What it is is a wideranging defense of anarchism, not just in the political sphere but in all human endeavors.
The insight i've carried with me for the 20+ years since i read it is that quantity doesn't scale, there is a point where a teaspoon of water increasing to a cup is useful and necessary, but as it increases to a swimming pool and eventually to the Pacific ocean, something in the quality changes. It becomes not a life essential glass of water, but a life threatening monster. Changes in quantity are qualitative. Seems like such a simple idea, but it isn't, as the book shows.
An easy but complete read, it talks about how many people you can remember by name, or by shape at a distance. To how technology distorts and maims people and our minds. I am sure that each chapter, and each insight has a number of books now written on the topic, but this is AFAIK the best one volume defense of this cluster of insights about how size really matters.
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Approaching 35 years old, this book is poignant and prescient. Do you feel something is amiss when you think of politics in these United States? Do you feel sort of like Neo in The Matrix? Well, Kirkpatrick Sale would tell you that so much of the life around you from the politics, the government, the thinking, the technology is all too big to succeed and beyond the scope of human management, thus leaving you the individual out of touch the with the forces that control your own life. The act of voting (that great and touted instrument of change!) itself doesn't even translate into any tangible results or meaningful difference, or the difference is contrary to what you voted for. Well, here friend, is the outline of the problem and some viable solutions. A must read.
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Format: Paperback
This is a wide-ranging but not closely argued defense of a utopian vision in which the primary value is right-sizedness. Kirkpatrick Sale argues that almost everything in modern America and the West generally is too big, and that our problems in everything - buildings, cities, agriculture, firms, schools, government - can be traced to size. He wants to live in a world where people literally know everyone affected by their actions and decisions.

It's a tempting argument from a classical liberal (libertarian) point of view. Most would agree that firms are the size they are because government and laws create an environment in which they thrive and florish. Reduce the size and scope of government and the size and scope of corporations will follow. Decentralization is an accepted principle. Few classical liberals will have many problems with the laws and ordinances enforced at the city level: laws against crimes against person and property, traffic ordinances, and the like. Other local issues can be managed in smaller cities: financing schools, managing parks, etc. Local government means people vote on things they understand and can monitor and with which they probably have some interaction. Local tradeoffs are personal: pave a road or build a new library, pay lower taxes or get more services. Either is just as likely to benefit the people paying for it. In contrast, federal tradeoffs are unknowable: build a bridge in Alaska, or a tunnel in Boston. Relatively few people are likely to benefit from those things, much less understand what they do or whether they are done economically or even well. Everyone thinks their own Congressmen is relatively clean and all the others are pork dealers. Sale seems to share this distrust and even dislike of large government.
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