20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A thoughtful, controversial look at community.,
This review is from: The Lost City: The Forgotten Virtues Of Community In America (Paperback)
This is an excellent book that challenges many of the commonly held assumptions about progress. It's almost an elegy to the 1950s, before the Baby Boomers imploded authority, institutions and religious belief. Now these same Boomers curiosly wonder why the streets aren't safe and our popular culture revolves around money and sex. Boomers wanted more individual autonomy and, in the process, they had to destroy the institutions that held communities together--churches, schools, families. Ehrenhalt illustrates his thesis by concentrating on several neighborhoods in Chicago in the 1950s. The history and the real-world stories of the people involved make it very interesting reading. He does a great job (worthy of a novelist) of evoking the character of the time with lots of interesting detail. What's controversial about the book is his belief (contrary to today's requisite belief in empowerment)that most people want rules, regulations, guides, authority. They want a Catholic Church to tell them right from wrong. They want a community that enforces its values. "The Lost City" is an excellent history that will make anyone think about the condition of America in 1990s.
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Initial post: Aug 3, 2008 6:50:11 PM PDT
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2010 12:28:42 PM PDT
Amazon Customer says:
The book was more of a critical look at the 1950's. It neither idealized the time, nor completely dismissed it. Ehrnhalt's look into the fifties focusies on both the good and the bad of the time, and poses the question of whether we can have some of the positive aspects without the racism, complacency, and harsh restrictions imposed. He does conclude, however, that we cannot have our cake and eat it to; there has to be some give and take, and we will not have the communities of the fifties without it's tight boundaries. That is our price for individual liberty. A very thought-provocing book, one I think is misrepresented in these reviews. The postive aspect to the black ghettos one of the reviewers was speaking of was the fact that there were more positive and inspiring black role models in the neighborhoods of young people who now often look up to drug dealers and gang members in their absence. Ehrenhalt does not say, however, that this justifies the way blacks were treated at the time.
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