Rebecca's Reviews > The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape

The Geography of Nowhere by James Howard Kunstler
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's review
Jun 20, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: nonfiction
Read in October, 2006

This is book is largely a rant--well-researched and eloquent--but a rant nonetheless. Overwrought with cynicism, it is hard to distinguish Kunstler's reasonable concerns from his own sense of nostalgia. He draws some erroneous parallels (e.g. holding Disney World to the standard of anything but an amusement park) but does make an effective point regarding how U.S. citizens were ill-prepared for the after effects of the heyday of the automobile.

Fundamentally, Kunstler's cynicism aside, he's an advocate for renewed interest in civic planning, decreased dependency on fossil fuels, and models of sustainability. He presents Portland, OR as the best model for a city and the community of Seaside, FL as the model for a smaller town. He sees urban planning as the opportunity to develop while respecting the present landscape and enriching sense of community and public space.

The weakness of the book lies in the author's bitterness, which disguises his very real passion for the topic. The saving grace is that given most of his likely readership, he is preaching to the choir who understands his anger. This choir will understand that Kunstler embeds important lessons in his bleak diatribe--lessons worth embracing.
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