High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing

Ben Austen. Harper, $27.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-223506-0
In his first book, journalist Austen surveys the development and demise of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing project through the stories of four African-American residents who lived there at various points in their lives, beginning in the 1950s and up until the building’s demolition in 2011. Together their stories span the tenures of 10 mayors and illustrate Cabrini-Green residents’ slide into overwhelming poverty, as well as the disintegration of the community and the rise of crime there, exemplified in the shooting of two policemen, James Severin and Anthony Rizzato, in 1970, and the shooting of seven-year-old Dantrell Davis in 1992. Cabrini-Green—and particularly its demolition—has been the subject of much media attention; Austen examines that treatment in newspaper accounts, as well as in several films and documentaries, which by and large perpetuate a one-dimensional view of the horrors of inner-city life. Austen is an expert on his subject, and the narrative at times feels bloated with an excess of his experience and research. Nevertheless, urban planners in particular will find this an instructive guide, or, perhaps more importantly, a cautionary tale about a failed attempt to provide affordable housing for the poor. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/16/2017
Release date: 02/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5384-9861-3
Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-06-223508-4
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-279918-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-5384-9860-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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