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Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  508 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
In his landmark book The Geography of Nowhere James Howard Kunstler visited the "tragic sprawlscape of cartoon architecture, junked cities, and ravaged countryside" America had become and declared that the deteriorating environment was not merely a symptom of a troubled culture, but one of the primary causes of our discontent.
In Home from Nowhere Kunstler not only shows
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 26th 1998 by Free Press (first published 1996)
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This book puts forth the philsophy of New Urbanism, a movement within architecture and urban planning to create livable urban communities where people of all incomes , industry and retail can live in proximity to each other. New Urbanists, and especially Kunstler see the suburbs as a huge mistake in the development of communities. They advocte for walkable cities that by their structure invite people to interact with each other is an informal and spontaneous ways. They alsoadvocate for public sp ...more
Mar 24, 2008 Pam rated it did not like it
I'm debating whether to call this "read" since I'm about 2/3 of the way through it and simply can't stand his style anymore.

I've loved other books of his, but this seems to be *mostly* rehashing of ideas already presented, and also just, well, arrogant and annoying.

Interesting ideas, but overly simplisitic and overly hostile to just about everything but his own view of how things should be.

Jan 19, 2009 Jason rated it really liked it
Kunstler has assembled a well crafted, thought out, and insightful piece of vitriolic ranting against the evils of sprawl and the stupidity of the suburban U.S. mindset that has taken over much of our country. I'm thoroughly impressed by the amount of spite that the reader can feel emanating from the book as they read it - almost as if Kunstler infused each copy with a bit of his own hatred.

That said, he has a lot of suggestions for making improvements - some practical, some impractical. There a
Stephen Hicks
I wanted to rate this book higher than three stars, but I couldn't do so with a clear conscience. Allow me to explain:

Kunstler does a marvelous job dismantling modernity with a meticulous eye when the backdrop is urban planning and the effects of the built environment on social dynamics. Essentially the first 150 pages of the book were wonderful. I poured over his drawings and dissections of how certain architectural and urban patterns incline people to "love where they live" instead of despairi
Jul 24, 2011 Margot rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Kunstler delivers the second of his one-two punch by bringing us back from the depths of despair where he left off at the end of The Geography of Nowhere. He dishes up an additional helping of informed ranting about the current state of our social geography and public space, but also provides us with a few models for a possible solution. Kunstler has very strong, definite opinions, and he does not shy away from sharing them with you. If nothing else, this book will make you pay attention to the ...more
Jan 30, 2016 Stephen rated it really liked it
"History doesn't believe anybody's advertising." (p.1)

James Howard Kunstler penned The Geography of Nowhere in an attempt to answer the question: why is America so obscenely ugly? His answer came in the form of a cultural history of the United States, one that introduced lay readers to urban planning and enticed them with its relevance to their lives, not to mention Kunstler's playfully vicious style. As much ground as it covered though, and as hilariously as Kunstler excoriated suburban sprawl
Oct 28, 2015 Peter rated it did not like it
Shelves: awful
This is the type of idealistic, polemical book on post-WWII architecture that I find very irritating.

Looking back on the choices of the previous generation and deciding that they must have been in some kind of drunken stupor is a very low blow. Simply because the design choices that were in use in the 50's are not compliant with those that the writer favors does not mean that those older designs are necessarily the work of drunks.

Yes, there are problems with suburban tract housing. However, I
Nov 29, 2016 Anna rated it really liked it
Kunstler is angry about the terrible state of the American built environment, and expounds his anger with conviction. Reading this book as a British person makes you profoundly grateful that the UK has not succumbed to the same degree of car-dependent suburban sprawl as the US. This is not to say that the British built environment is uniformly or even mostly excellent. What struck me, though, is that the UK still uses our urban centres, albeit not always well, and does not require commercial bui ...more
Sep 20, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it
This book was probably responsible for getting me back into the issues concerning the health of our environment and the economy. I am an old hippy who saw the writing on the wall back in the 70's and I guess I believed that enough people in our country had seen the light, created the EPA etc. and everyone knew what we needed to do. I went to school, got married, had children, went to work. We focused on someday getting some land to grow healthy food and live lightly on the planet. One friend wen ...more
Home from Nowhere picks up where The Geography of Nowhere leaves off. Having spent some time traveling and hanging out with people in the New Urbanist movement, James Howard Kunstler adds some real life examples to accentuate the points in his previous book. There's a lot of repetition, especially of the curmudgeonly criticism of the built American landscape. Thrown in some of his social critique, and I started to wonder about whether Kunstler is some ultra-conservative seeing a bygone Golden Ag ...more
Nov 26, 2007 Sabrina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A borderline muckracking analysis of the state of architecture, suburbia, and small towns, Home From Nowhere succeeds in holding the reader's focus hostage so he or she may meet the perils of the auto-dystopic America we've come to inhabit.

This is a fantastic and tantalizing read that will jibe well with any spent soul that resides in a suburban wasteland. If I may digress and carp, however, I'll note that the author has an overt tendency to descend into trenchant rebukes of soulless suburbia,
Aug 19, 2008 Shawn rated it liked it
This book is somewhat of a bridge between the preceding book called The Geography of Nowhere and Kunstler's book The Long Emergency which came out a few years ago. I found that it lacks the informativeness of these other two books, in addition to being a bit unclear on how it adds to what was already written in The Geography of Nowhere. But it is still enjoyable reading if you like JHK's rants about American social life - his hilarious quasi-philosophical zingers ridiculing the modern American p ...more
Jan 04, 2008 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An analysis of "new urbanism" and how to design cities better.
quotes: "We seem quite willing to build prisons with up to date amenities and comforts...If we put a fraction of the effort, money, and will into building decent orphanages, we probably wouldn't need so many state of the art prisons to take care of adults who were once unwanted, uncared for children."
"Parking is “free” to many motorists at malls and shopping centers, with their immense lots. But all that paving raises the rents in mal
Bob Matter
May 28, 2011 Bob Matter rated it liked it
A more-or-less sequel to his "The Geography of Nowhere", this offering is not as compelling, but still a worthwhile read for those interested in urban planning and land usage. As I mentioned in my review of TGoN, Kunstler would benefit from some elemental political economy training from one of the Henry George Schools to learn how Land Value Taxation would solve the problem of sprawl amongst others. Before reading any books on urban planning one should perhaps read the modernized abridgment of H ...more
Mar 09, 2008 Janie rated it it was amazing
An outspoken critic of sprawl, big box stores, and god-awful architecture, Kunstler rants away in this book, a lot like I often do about our souless modern landscape. The author digs into how the economy, the automobile, politics, and corporations helped erode aesthetic and civic unity in public spaces, but it also offers solid solutions. Knustler can veer into a snide tone, but I forgive him. His point is hard to ignore.
Nicole Powell
Jan 02, 2009 Nicole Powell rated it it was amazing
Loved it, this book is a must read! He is witty, but has a strong point - it is sad to really look at the landscape of America - it is suburbia and it truly feels like nowhere. It was interesting to read about the history and how our country has ended up this way, it is sad, but makes me want to work for the change this country needs - moving away from suburbia and back to traditional planning, mixed use/income, public transit - get people out of their cars and walking again!
A follow up to Kunstler's Geography From Nowhere, though the first one I read (I'm a bit backwards after all), this continues his general rant against evil sprawl with, I seem to recall, some focus towards the future. I agree with his opinions about the malaise of cities and towns in the face of big-boxes and strip centers, but I feel his attitude towards modern/contemporary architecture is simplistic at best.
Keith Akers
Aug 04, 2008 Keith Akers rated it it was amazing
I learned that cars are really bad for America in some subtle ways that you might not appreciate, even if you're disposed to be anti-car, just because the car culture is so ubiquitous. This is less well-known than the "Geography of Nowhere" but it's better because Kunstler goes into how a better system would work.
Botanist nelson
a great follow-up to The Geography of Nowhere. published in 1995, it's an extremely prescient presentation of the blight of suburban (and exurban) sprawl that is finally on the radar of national problems. kunstler was ahead of his time. "town center" have caught on -- some are that in name only, while others truly strive to become a true neighborhood. he lays out the
May 24, 2010 Brian rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I stumbled upon this book in doing some research of the effects of suburban sprawl in the local church. I found it to be am informative read, though the chapters are more episodic in nature rather than building a cohesive whole. I sense that one would do better to read Kunstler's preceding book on the same subject.
Beth Barnett
May 28, 2007 Beth Barnett rated it really liked it
Sequel to Geography of Nowhere. This book isn't as good as the first, but is worth reading if you liked Geography of Nowhere. It covers some of the same topics and branches out into examples of New Urbanism, a movement in architecture, urban planning, and landscape planning that at least attempts to be pedestrian and environment-friendly.
Feb 16, 2008 Kelda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: permaculture
This book changed my life, previously I had no idea that living 'away from the city' was also putting a humongous strain on the ecosystems we'd care to protect. In hindsight though, I'd recommend it only with some anti-gentrification reading immediately following.
Dec 20, 2007 Steven rated it liked it
Self-satisfied and narrow complaints from a disgruntled city dweller. Ultimately I agree with pretty much everything he says.

Except it isn't that simple.

And his brief discussion of gentrification is sort of ill-developed and not well thought-out.
Jun 02, 2007 Alexander added it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was really interesting, though problematic in many ways. It got me thinking about a whole lot of things, so I wrote a little ditty and posted it on my blog. Go check it out:
Tim Halbur
Feb 27, 2013 Tim Halbur rated it it was amazing
This is the book that tipped me over the edge to go back to school and study urban planning. Kunstler is a crank and a prophet, and in this book he spells out everything that is wrong with America's autocentric suburban development pattern. Will make you see the world differently.
Jun 17, 2008 Tom rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Never thought a book on Urban design could be so funny. But it is.
Well written, and oh so poignant. Makes you think bout why
our cities, and society, are so screwed up.
and some things to do about it.
Sep 09, 2010 Doug rated it liked it
Shelves: abandoned
A good Kunstler primer, I suppose. After 100+ pages of dense architectural theory, I found myself really antsy. I think I'd like to read more timely (and polished) works of his.

I definitely look at our cultural infrastructure differently!
Mar 02, 2013 Marcia rated it liked it
Excellent thoughts! Altered my view of American culture for the better. Though Kunstler is a bit cynical, he's honest in his opinions and I appreciate that.
Oct 22, 2012 Annette rated it really liked it
A continuation of The Geography of Nowhere, this book focuses on issues in urban architecture and ideas for planning comfortable living environments. Check out the Kunstler's website.
Jul 05, 2008 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: urbanites; anyone who wonders why American towns look the same
Shelves: nonfiction, society
A follow-up volume to Home From Nowhere. In this book, Kunstler puts forth some suggestions as to what needs to change to restore "thereness" to American cities and towns.

Well worth reading.
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James Howard Kunstler (born 1948) is an American author, social critic, and blogger who is perhaps best known for his book The Geography of Nowhere, a history of suburbia and urban development in the United States. He is prominently featured in the peak oil documentary, The End of Suburbia, widely circulated on the internet. In his most recent non-fiction book, The Long Emergency (2005), he argues ...more
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