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Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It
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Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  143 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
They called it progress. But for the people whose homes and districts were bulldozed, the urban renewal projects that swept America starting in 1949 were nothing short of assault. Vibrant city blocks—places rich in history—were reduced to garbage-strewn vacant lots. When a neighborhood is destroyed its inhabitants suffer “root shock”: a traumatic stress reaction related to ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by One World/Ballantine (first published June 1st 2004)
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Zach
Jun 20, 2014 rated it liked it
The Urban Renewal movement of the middle of the 20th century sought to bulldoze blighted neighborhoods in the name of progress. Its residents were to be housed in dense skyscrapers with great communal lawns to serve as gathering spaces. The towers were new, the grass plans spacious, and gone was the old, crowded neighborhood and the vice that had grown into its masonry.

But blight is in the eye of the beholder. Where a rich, white suburbanite sees a dirty, struggling area, a black resident sees a
...more
maxwell
Aug 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
brilliant. this'll probably be a big influence on what i go to school for next, if and when i figure that out...
Andrea
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is one of the few books that really tries to come to grips with the deep psychological trauma caused by mass displacement -- what it calls Root Shock. It does so through the prism of urban renewal and reminds us of the scale of it. The program ran from 1949 to 1973, and during this time the U.S. government bulldozed 2,500 neighborhoods in 993 cities, dispossessing an estimated million people. They were supposed to be slum clearances, they were supposed to create space for new housing. Few o ...more
Kidada
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: violence-trauma
With its examination of place, community, and our interconnectedness, this book revealed the disastrous effects of urban renewal in ways I had never quite grasped. People often think of urban renewal as just the loss of homes but Fullilove shows displaced people lost so much more than that and that the cascading losses altered individuals and communities in ways we see today.
Laurel
Mar 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
this book is fascinating. about the psychological and social effects of being uprooted from one's home (particularly from urban renewal, a federal policy that razed 1600 mostly african american neighborhoods in the 60s...). focuses on 3 cities in particular - newark, pittsburgh & roanoke.
Kersplebedeb
Mar 05, 2008 rated it liked it
A liberal take on urban planning - definitely not very left wing, but still i found it of interest.
Gabbi
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is such an important topic, no less so 14 years after this book was published. In most cities across the US urban displacement continues, and the effects of 50-year-old displacement continue to not be addressed. Fullilove grounds her analysis in first-person accounts and interviews, presenting a hard-hitting image of what was lost in so many cities during the urban renewal movement, and how all of our communities are still feeling those repercussions today. She also shares how her own resea ...more
Matt
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This should be required reading.
Drick
I heard the author, Dr. Mindy Fullilove, speak at a conference on the psycholgical and social consequences of displacement due to policies of urban renewal over the3 last 50=60 years in the U.S. In this book she reveals the stories and struggles of black people who were displaced by urban renewal projects in Pittsburgh, Roanoke, Newark and Philadelphia. Though the book is a bit haphazard and seems to jump aroudn here insights as to the ongoing impact of urban displacement is priceless and speak ...more
Joan Broadfield
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this book almost 10 years ago, and it provided such clear thinking, I've been recommending it since. The pattern of 'urban renewal' which may begin with positive intentions, and is often supported by people of faith hoping to 'do good', includes a dropping of commitment down the line, and those actions of the 1950s-60s live with us today in communities that are dysfunctional, marked by separation and rootlessness. I am grateful for Fullilove's continued concern for this issue.
Desiree Rose
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it


An eye-opening account of urban-renewal in the United States that delves into the heart of urban ecology. I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by Mindy Thompson Fullilove at the New School that left me saddened and speechless yet still motivated and empowered. This book left me with the same feeling.
Laura Callanan
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a terrific book that brings together environmental issues, urban planning, racial issues, and trauma studies. The author uses the metaphor of root shock to represent the trauma inflicted on primarily African American communities during urban renewal programs that destroyed urban communities.
Michael
Jun 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Medically and urban space-minded social scientists.
Recommended to Michael by: Initially read for school.
Excellent med-anth oriented volume from a veteran physician who tackles the problems of gentrification, urban renewal and displacement by placing them in the most essential context there is: health. A great read, if maybe a bit obvious at times to those who have studied the problem before.
Zoe
Feb 02, 2016 added it
Useful book about gentrification that uses Pittsburgh as one of its case studies, specifically the Hill District.
Cate
Mar 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
I just started this one
Emily
Apr 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book was written by one of the heads of the prog. at Columbia and looks amazing... I cant wait to read! Will post review after...
Lenny
Jan 19, 2016 added it
Personal. Deep and incredible story about the human community and psychological conditions, and urban renewal.
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