DARK AGE AHEAD

Jane Jacobs, Author . Random $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6232-4

Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities forever transformed the discipline of urban planning by concentrating on what actually helped cities work. Unencumbered by generations of fatuous theorizing, Jacobs proposed a model of action that has left a positive mark in neighborhoods all over the world. Her latest salvo, Dark Age Ahead , is, despite the pessimism of many of its conclusions, also positive, less a jeremiad than a firm but helpful reminder of just how much is at stake. Jacobs sees "ominous signs of decay" in five "pillars" of our culture: family, community, higher education, science and "self policing by the learned professions." Each is given a detailed treatment, with sympathetic but hard-headed real-world assessments that are often surprising and always provocative and well-expressed. Her chapter on the decline of the nuclear family completely avoids the moral hand-wringing of the kindergarten Cassandras to place the blame on an economy that has made the affordable home either an unattainable dream or a crippling debt. Her discussion of the havoc wrought by the lack of accountability seems ripped from any number of headlines, but her analysis of the larger effects sets it apart. A lifetime of unwasted experience in a number of fields has gone into this short but pungent book, and to ignore its sober warnings would be foolish indeed. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/19/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-679-31310-6
Hardcover - 241 pages - 978-0-679-31309-0
Open Ebook - 107 pages - 978-0-307-42545-4
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-4000-7670-3
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