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Imagineering Atlanta: The Politics of Place in the City of Dreams (Haymarket) Paperback – April 17, 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

Is Atlanta really the "New York of the South"? Does it have a World Trade Center? A stock exchange? An urban center? Why not? Anthropologist Charles Rutheiser looks at why the city never attained traditional urbanity in this accessible, well-researched historical study. He implicates politicians, economics and a racialized topography for the city's failure to thrive, showing that outlying white areas developed at the expense of the city's black core. Imagineering Atlanta steps around the hype of the 1996 Olympics and Atlanta's characteristic boosterism to make a case that is poignant and convincing.

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Recalling one meeting of Atlanta civic and business leaders, Rutheiser recounts that many "had recently returned from their month-long stay in Barcelona?where they had been honored guests at the Olympic Games?with the mildly horrifying awareness of Atlanta's lack of 'traditional urbanity.'" Which, as anyone who has spent any time there, would recognize both in the lack a vital urban center, and in the presence of a decidedly provincial boosterism. There is little boosterism in this excellent, accessible, well-researched and highly critical study of the history of Atlanta's image and its reality. Starting from the hype (Atlanta as "the gateway to the South"; the "New York of the South"; "the city too busy to hate"; "Black Mecca"; "the world's next great international city"), anthropologist Rutheiser provides a clear step-by-step understanding of how politics, economics and a "racialized topography" developed Atlanta's outlying (read white) areas at the expense of its inner (read black) core. He also discusses this summer's Olympics, which many Atlantans recognize as a chance, perhaps the last chance, to fill in the hole in its center. At the time this book went to print, the prognosis didn't look promising. It seemed unlikely that the building would substantially benefit the city's core, likely that Atlanta taxpayers will be picking up at least part of the tab and, more insidiously, that the sometimes uneasy compromise of black political leadership and local biracial business leadership that has been evolving since the early 1970s, may be overshadowed by increasingly powerful national or multinational corporations.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Haymarket
  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; Edge & Cover Wear edition (April 17, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859841457
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859841457
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,179,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This book was written during the run-up to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Written by a GSU professor it has an admittedly "Left" slant in its view.

It includes some history of the city, once again with a "left" slant. The best section (2nd half) covers the awarding of the 1996 games and then all of the political maneuvering which went on during the build up.

(p.s. I wish there was a follow-up since it ends before the games started)

Just moving to Atlanta in 2013, it is interesting to learn about its history and to get it from a different political view point.

Well worth a read
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Charles Rutheiser has added an impressive new addition to the literature of urban anthropology. In this, his latest offering, he chronicles Atlanta's urban redevelopment for the 1996 Summer Olympics. Like a hacksaw, Rutheiser sheers away at the Olympic hype, leaving only the truth of a "imagineered" Atlanta of the New South. As one who lived in Atlanta during the craziness of the Olympics, Rutheiser's observations are dead-on and leads the reader to view Atlanta as a "constructed" New Southern City.
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