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Human scale Paperback – 1980


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 558 pages
  • Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan; US Edition edition (1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0698110137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0698110137
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.1 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,129,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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An easy but complete read, it talks about how many people you can remember by name, or by shape at a distance.
R. M. Williams
His primary conclusion is predictable - ..., but the historical insights he offers into our unsung successes both amaze and encourage.
W. D. Kubiak
I've been a voracious reader ever since I learned to read almost 50 years ago, so that adds up to at least several thousand books.
Stan Vernooy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Stan Vernooy on July 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've been a voracious reader ever since I learned to read almost 50 years ago, so that adds up to at least several thousand books. Out of all of those, there were perhaps half a dozen which permanently changed my life, and this is one of them. (If you really care to know what the others were, then e-mail me and I'll tell you, LOL.) Sale begins with the simplest possible premise: that all human efforts should be measured and evaluated in terms of how they increase human happiness, comfort and convenience. That idea seems too obvious to require discussion, and yet Sale demonstrates that in almost every aspect of our culture, we have ignored that principle. He then describes what would have to be done in order to bring our homes, furniture, neighborhoods, etc. into conformance with the greatest comfort and happiness for human beings. It's one of the most fascinatingly thoughtful books I have ever read, and I hope it comes back into print soon.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By W. D. Kubiak on July 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Since the Small/Beautiful/Sensual societies we create in the post-corporate world should directly reflect the democratic will of each of our families, communities and bioregions, there is little point in pushing one-size-fits-all paradigms. You don't need a doctor to tell you how to enjoy your health after the plague is past. As long as we keep the "pathological scale" problem in mind and simply refuse existence to vast hierarchic entities, a diversity of congenial new cultures is thinkable, desirable, probably inevitable. But we have learned a lot about ourselves as a species in the last few thousand years, and that history must be consulted when building our brave new worlds. Kirkpatrick Sale offers an invaluable review of that history in "Human Scale" and clearly outlines what has worked and what hasn't since the days of ancient Greece. His primary conclusion is predictable - ..., but the historical insights he offers into our unsung successes both amaze and encourage. Read this book! You will feel a lot better about both the past and the future.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By E. Husman on October 13, 2006
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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