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Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It Paperback – August 30, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: One World/Ballantine (August 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345454235
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345454232
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #333,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fullilove (The House of Joshua) looks at the effect of urban renewal on black neighborhoods across the country and finds a well of emotional pain in this engagingly written but uneven book. According to Fullilove, the federal Housing Act of 1949 and its bulldozing of neighborhoods to make room for malls, freeways and parking lots left African-Americans at an enormous social, economic and emotional disadvantage. The experience of losing one's roots, she notes, "does not end with emergency treatment, but will stay with the individual for a lifetime." To illustrate this point, Fullilove, a professor of clinical psychiatry and public health at Columbia University, travels to gutted neighborhoods in Philadelphia; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Roanoke, Va., and intersperses her analysis with before and after photos and testimony from displaced residents. "What must be heard in these stories of urban renewal-their emotional core-is the howl of amputation, the anguish at calamity unassuaged," she writes. She laments the disappearance of the overlapping networks that once existed in small black communities: the corner stores, shared gardens and neighbors who "automatically came." Urban renewal may have allowed some black families to move to nicer homes or neighborhoods, she concludes, but "the buffering effect of the kindness was lost." Fullilove is at her best conveying the emotions of displaced residents and their mixed feelings about relocation, gentrification and the loss of community ties. She is less successful in bringing in citations from her own studies in health policy, as well as the work of historically various urban planners such as Michel Cantal-Dupart, Georges-Eugene Haussmann and Jane Addams. The result is a somewhat disjointed examination of a complicated subject that isn't quite for general readers and isn't quite for academics, either.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* As a professor of clinical psychiatry and public health at Columbia, Fullilove brings a perhaps unconventional but ideal resume to an understanding of the cultural devastation, or "root shock," that urban renewal has brought upon the African American community. By the author's estimate, some 1,600 black neighborhoods nationwide were demolished by urban renewal in the 1950s and 1960s. In their place were erected interstate highway networks, sports stadiums, office towers, woeful public housing, and vast public-works projects--which wiped out black neighborhoods altogether, split them apart, or isolated them from the rest of their communities. Focusing on specific black neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Newark, Philadelphia, and Roanoke, Virginia, the author brings together a patchwork of oral histories, aerial photographs, charts, and personal narrative to connect the dots between a prewar black community that was richly complex and mutually supportive and a twenty-first-century community at violent odds with itself. "How easy it is to hurt each other," one interviewee explains, "because we are not that close anymore. We are not family anymore." Solutions are not easy, of course, but Fullilove puts forth an aesthetic of true "urban renewal" from which urban planners and thinking citizens can draw inspiration. Notwithstanding its shortcomings of East Coast bias and loose organization, Root Shock brings transformative insights to this American dilemma. Alan Moores
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The book was okay, but it can be skipped.
Sam Turner
I would suggest that anyone interested in community displacement read this book.
Yasmil Linares
The author provides some valuable information, but it is not academic quality.
RK

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jsmorneau on September 14, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We were given this book to read for summer reading before school started this fall. I wasn't sure what to expect when I got the book. I was afraid that it was going to be a typical text book snooze fest, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. It's a book about people. People with stories. Stories of how their lives were affected by urban renewal. The author gives you a look at these people through a psychological perspective, and from the get go helps the reader understand root shock in a very practical way.

I was waiting for her to cover the city of Detroit, but maybe that'll be in a future book that she writes. Roanoke, Pittsburgh and parts of Jersey are the cities she covers.

Very well worth the read. Thumbs up.
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By jbaldwinbk on August 6, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I started reading the book for a school requirement.
I must say I found it very enjoyable, the language is easy to follow and understand, and Dr. Fullilove has a great way of getting you to understand how the american population felt during urban renewal and what urban renewal did to many people on a more personal level. She also reaches deep to help the reader understand the importance in communities and community relationships.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DB361 on September 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book can be used as a great introduction to the "urban renewal" process that helped devastate cities across the country. It is very clear and direct, with many first person accounts that transform the topic from history or sociology into a story about people, families and communities. I led a discussion group on this book, and recommend this to churches and other community organizations who desire their members to become more informed and especially more emotionally connected to city communities and their problems.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kristen Cruz on April 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In Root Shock, Mindy Fullilove investigates the devastating and long lasting effects of urban renewal, mainly in the Lower Hill District. In my opinion, the book drags on in a dramatic and one-sided manner. Although the book does give various interesting statistics, it is hard to connect all the different perspectives. Despite the book's one-sidedness, Fullilove's message in strengthened by the personal accounts that she shares of those who have experienced "root shock" firsthand.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "Samantha Johnson" Amanda on April 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The book, "Root Shock," by Mindy Fullilove gives us great information about urban renewal and gentrification and how individuals are affected. She argues that root shock effects entire communities and that it results from urban renewal. Fullilove looks at the emotional destruction from community displacement and uses pathos (emotional appeal) for her argument. Although Fullilove does a great job of showing her readers the negative effects of community displacement, she is very one-sided. Her book does not have information about the positive effects of community displacement, but overall, I think she did a great job of explaining about community displacement and the effects it had on the individuals of the community.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William A. James on March 18, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This Book goes far to explaining why there seems to be a lack of a sense of community among too many of our young inner-city youths and young adults. We have destroyed a lot more than "Slums." We have divested millions of people through Eminent Domain of that spirit of togetherness that makes a grouping of people a disinct neighborhood, where self-pride, dignity, and group identity can thrive, and cause future generations to aspire to become like the great members of their society. "Urban Renewal," is a misnomer, a social monster, that must be stopped. I have written a similar Book: "In The Streets of Vinegar Hill, 2007." (Get it at Amazon.com.) I'm dealing with the same problems in Charlottesville, Virginia that Fullilove dealt with in Roanoke, Virginia. My hat is off to Fullilove. She is a great, inspirational writer and thinker. Her Book is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand the multiplicity of problems facing poor people in comtemporary American society.
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