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Showing 1-3 of 3 reviews(1 star, Verified Purchases). See all 130 reviews
on October 18, 2005
I purchased this book hoping to get a fresh perspective - why do people choose a suburban lifestyle and how that shapes society. Instead, I got 275+ pages of the same elitest criticism.

It's important to understand what the author is describing as suburb vs. city. I picked this up expecting to find a NY vs. Levvitown or Chicago vs. Park Forest argument. It seems that the "cities" in this book are not your major metropolitan areas, but smaller cities, around 250,000 in population or so. When you read on, you'll see why he is concentrating on these examples - all of his cities' "haves" and the suburbs "have nots" would be shattered when applied to Manhattan.

Next issue I take with the book is that there are a lot of claims made, but not a shred of data to back them up! I agree with a lot of the points that he is trying to make, but if you can't solidify your argument with some statistics (and they are out there for this sort of research), then your book is nothing more than an opinion and rhetoric. One example was that there is much more socio-economic diversity in the Georgetown neighborhood of DC and that the secretaries and teachers live alongside the lawyers. If Mr. Duany were to pull up the socio-economic data from a Georgetown zip code (and this information is readily available, I just found it on google), he would see that this is most certainly not true. As another reviewer pointed out, just stating it does not make is so.

Finally, one of the other shortcomings in the book were the photos and the footnotes that contradict the argument. An example is a discussion of how a main street shopping district is superior because nobody needs to drive - they can walk home, to work, to shop, and to play. All garage space is provided in alleys, creating the author's version of utopia. But if this is true, then why is the accompanying photo showing a main street in Boca Raton that has not one open parking spot? Seems that this isn't quite the utopia that he is painting, and people still are driving, regardless if it is to get home, shop, to go to work, etc. There are also some points made in footnotes, which I passed over at first thinking that they were just citations. Turns out that sometimes they are counterpoints, that if he had added in the regular paragraph, would have destroyed his point. Come on now, that is just silly. If you have to conceed a point that weakens the argument, don't insult the intelligence of your audience by trying to hide it.

While this is a fascinating topic to me, I have to say that this is a very narrow-minded view that is lacking on anything concrete or even original.
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on September 7, 2015
more sorry "new urbanism" social order does not spring from design...remaking urban landscapes into "neighborhoods" that look like old time main street will not cure social ills...sprawl may indeed be dead as a concept but cities are not innocent of being fundamentally flawed...and none of them are self-sustaining...the age of the city-state is long past...someone needs to cut through the fog these people are in and tell them...buy a book on carpentry instead...that could be a worthwhile learning experience.
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on June 1, 2002
Unless you are interested in an extended neo-liberal rant against contemporary planning and society in general. I was hoping that this book would offer a balanced historical analysis of urban planning, and it does for a few pages, but it quickly degenerates into a rant against modern planning and lifestyles. The authors clearly do not see any merit in the suburban way of life, particularly the car. Certainly, there is much criticize about modern suburbia, but the authors are rather extreme in criticisms. They include bizarre and snide comments such as complaining about Americans' "absurd levels of wealth." Even worse, the book is poorly researched -- its written like a high school paper, with a footnote here or there to illustrate points, except that the footnotes are simply meaningless studies reprinted in the mass media or other neo-liberal books critical of all aspects of modern suburbia. Thus, not only is this book an embarassment for those who are looking for a balanced analysis of modern urban planning, it is a shoddy and circular effort from a purely academic standpoint. Stand clear of this one.
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