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The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving Hardcover – August 1, 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

While the baby boomers helped fortify the notion of the suburban single-family house as the American dream, the millennials are headed in another direction, according to Fortune writer Gallagher. The recession, rising fuel prices, and demographic shifts that mean smaller families and fewer and later marriages are contributing to a decline in the appeal of the suburbs. Gallagher talked to homebuilders, developers, planners, transportation engineers, architects, psychologists, and home buyers and sellers in cities and suburbs to offer a fascinating portrait of housing and lifestyle trends. She examines how the American dream came to be tied to the suburbs even as they are lambasted in popular culture and by social scientists and, lately, planners and engineers. New Urbanists argue that the suburb is an unsustainable model because the low-density population doesn’t generate enough tax base to support it, unless it sprawls. Gallagher points to research and analysis showing rising populations in urban areas and suburbs who adapt the ideals of green living and walkable communities. Fascinating reading on changing trends in how and where we live. --Vanessa Bush


“This book is a steel fist in a velvet glove. Beneath Leigh Gallagher's smooth, elegant prose there is a methodical smashing of the suburban paradigm. When all is done, a few shards remain—but only because she is scrupulously fair. This story of rise and ruin avoids the usual storm of statistics—nor is it a tale told with apocalyptic glee. The End of the Suburbs is the most convincing book yet on the lifestyle changes coming to our immediate future.”
— Andres Duany, founding partner of Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company and co-author of Suburban Nation
“The book is loaded with fascinating detail wrapped in a vivid story Gallagher creates from behind the scenes of America’s greatest promotion: the suburbs.”
—Meredith Whitney, author, Fate of the States: The New Geography of American Prosperity and founder, Meredith Whitney Advisory Group
“Leigh Gallagher asks all the right questions and comes up with surprising conclusions in this sweeping discussion of the future of the suburb. Spoiler alert - it's a bleak future for the burbs, but don't panic: Gallagher foretells a new world order where the conveniences  of the urban lifestyle rewire our understanding of the American Dream. You'll never look at a cul-de-sac the same way again after you enjoy this book, which is simultaneously entertaining and informative, breezy and analytical.”
—Spencer Rascoff, CEO, Zillow
The End of the Suburbs is a compelling, insightful must-read on what author Leigh Gallagher calls the ‘slow-burning revolution’ re-mapping the shape of America and its future. Her masterfully-argued case springs to life with both impressive research and empathetic portraits of those seduced and often betrayed by suburbia's promise of a more livable life. Now, where's my moving truck? Oh, right. Stuck in commuter traffic.”
—Linda Keenan, author and resident of Suburgatory
“No one knows how American residential preferences will change in the 21st century. But Leigh Gallagher’s well-researched and provocative The End of the Suburbs makes a persuasive argument that is difficult to refute. Required reading for anyone interested in the future of the United States.”
—Kenneth T. Jackson, professor of history, Columbia University and author of the prize-winning Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States
“I couldn’t put this book down. My readers often ask me, ‘What will happen to suburbia once we’ve all right-sized our homes and communities?’ Leigh Gallagher provides the data that I’ve been looking for, and makes the powerful assertion that our suburbs are permanently changing, not because of the Great Recession, but because of new attitudes about where and how we want to live—which is great news, both for the near term, and for generations to come.”
Sarah Susanka, the author of The Not So Big House series, and The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters.

"The end of Suburbia is timely and important. We should hope it is prophetic, because Leigh Gallagher shows suburbs as we know them are unsafe for our species."
Eric Klinenberg, Professor of Sociology at New York University and author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone

"Through compelling expert interviews, data and trends analysis, Leigh affirms the notion that we've hit 'peak burb.' This book presents a strong case for America's increasing preference for higher density lifestyles and the resulting trend to manage our lives via the information highway, not the paved kind!" 
Scott W. Griffith, former chairman and CEO, Zipcar

"Have you ever wondered whether the Great Recession will halt the process of gentrification in major American cities? Or what will happen to the empty suburban sprawl that is the result of the housing boom and bust? Or how most of us will live in a world where oil is expensive? Leigh Gallagher's crisp, entertaining, and fact-filled new book answers these questions and many more." 
Bethany McLean, coauthor, The Smartest Guys in the Room and All the Devils are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis 


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio (August 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591845254
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591845256
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Leigh Gallagher is an Assistant Managing Editor at Fortune magazine, where she edits feature stories on topics ranging from Wall Street to technology and oversees Fortune editorial franchises including the "100 Best Companies to Work For" and "40 Under 40" rankings. She is also a co-chair of the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, speaks regularly at Fortune and other business and economics conferences, and is a seasoned business news commentator, appearing regularly on MSNBC's Morning Joe, CNBC's Squawk Box, public radio's Marketplace and a wide variety of other programs. She is a visiting scholar at the Business and Economic Reporting program at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. Her first book, The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving, published by Portfolio in August 2013, has been featured on the TODAY show, Morning Joe, Meet the Press, Marketplace, and in Time, Fortune, the New York Times, People, and a variety of other outlets; it has been described as a "first-rate social history," a "steel fist in a velvet glove" and "fascinating reading on changing trends in how and where we live."

Before joining Fortune in 2007, Leigh was a senior editor at SmartMoney magazine and a writer for Forbes. Originally from Media, Pennsylvania, Leigh is a graduate of Cornell University and lives in New York.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I noticed that some weak reviews written by other customers object to the author's point of view in some way, or criticize the author for pointing out impending problems without suggesting solutions, as opposed to evaluating whether the author's point of view is clearly presented and supported by factual evidence. My review is positive not because I happen to agree with much of what the author says, but because it is well presented whether you agree with it or not.

The story of the suburbs as an economic and cultural phenomenon ties together many strands in US history and culture: publicly subsidized highways, zoning based on a misguided idyll of country life, federal housing policies such as mortgage tax breaks and redlining, the unholy combination of the housing industry and Wall Street in the mortgage-backed securities bubble, the distortion of the "American dream", and more.

This book is less scholarly than Jackson's "Crabgrass Frontier", less polemical than Kunstler's "The Geography of Nowhere", and less folksy than Duany et al's "Suburban Nation". It doesn't focus primarily on mobility/quality of life like Speck's "Walkable City", nor primarily on suburbia's effect on the loss of community like Putnam's "Bowling Alone", nor on the destruction of urban fabrics at the altar of cars like Shoup's "The High Cost of Free Parking", nor on the economic phenomenon described in Ehrenhalt's "The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City". And it's certainly not as visionary as Jane Jacobs's earlier "Death and Life of Great American Cities" nor as gloomy as her later "Dark Age Ahead".
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Format: Hardcover
Gallagher writes persuasively about a major change in American society, one that will affect all Americans: where we live. Little remarked, a shift in social and economic activity has begun, away from subways and towards cities. Gallagher chronicles this movement, marshalling convincing data but also poignant anecdotes gathered through extensive reporting. She has traveled widely and writes fluidly. She is plainly very accomplished as a senior journalist at one of the more important business magazines, but also writes with refreshing energy. A nifty volume, nice pictures too!
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Format: Hardcover
Despite the title, the book doesn't really conclude that there is going to be an end to suburbia (depending on how you define that which is well covered). It is in fact optimistic about the place of all sorts of "suburbias" that we live in now and will live in the future. It includes a wonderful (yet brief) history of housing in the US and how the invention and popularity of the automobile ultimately shaped our neighborhoods and towns. Especially fun is the description of different styles of developments over the last 30 years - all were recognizable as places you, your friends or family either have lived in or do live in now. The housing bubble is covered too as well as the good, bad and ugly of today's developers. The chapters pass quickly and are entertaining and they do give you some insight into where and into what type of housing americans are choosing today and may likely choose in the future. I read it on a long flight and throughly enjoyed it! Try it out!
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Format: Hardcover
Margaret Thatcher once said that Britain was built on history, while the USA was built on philosophy. If you need proof of that, look at Levittown. A whole community of houses and parks, designed, plotted, and built, all in less than two years. Since the end of WW2, suburban towns have sprouted with record speed. They were seen as great achievements for our nation. But are they great for us now?

The End of the Suburbs doesn't trash the American suburb at all. On the contrary, Leigh Gallagher mentions fond memories of growing up in the suburbs, and come to think of it, I have some too. There are lots of positive things that brought about the creation of the suburb, because in the old days, they were the cleanest place to live. Starting in the 1800's, the gentry moved out of the cities and into estates on the outskirts, and why wouldn't they, given the way the cities were. If you had money, would you want to live choking in coal smoke? Not likely, which is why small towns sprang up around Leeds and Manchester (in Britain) and Boston and Chicago (here in the USA.) But in this decade, as cities become cleaner, why move out? I bet there are suburbs in this country that are dirtier than the cities (anybody remember Love Canal?) and in the affluent Lawrence, Long Island, folks have to use filters on their faucets.

It wasn't just the gentry that moved out of the cities; Gallagher points out that corporations moved out too. IBM, GE, Bell Telephone, out they went. Now who wouldn't want a house in upstate New York if it were only a twenty minute drive to the IBM plant? Who wouldn't want a home in bucolic Pittsfield if they worked for General Electric? But now, even these corporations are leaving.
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