Nowhere Book

Based on the writings in his blog, you might think James Howard Kunstler is a complete fucking lunatic. He rants and raves about peak oil, the evils of suburbia, the impending collapse of the dollar, and ultimately, of civilization.

I hope he’s full of shit, but many of his arguments are pretty convincing.

I saw his book “Home From Nowhere” at the bookstore and figured ‘what the hell.’ It’s a bit more civil in tone than his online writings, but there is still plenty of profanity to keep things unprofessional.

Home From Nowhere
Home From Nowhere

Most of the book sings the praises of New Urbanism. I think New Urbanism is a lovely idea, but I’m not sure it takes 200 pages to convince people of that. In fairness, I was already pretty well convinced before I started reading the book, so I was quickly bored with repeated arguments in favor of what seem like common sense ideas.

There are a lot of interesting technical diagrams of how to apply design principles to urban planning. There are also lots of examples of urban design gone bad, and a few of places that got it right. The book then sort of abruptly changes course to talk about organic farming and ends with a love letter to the design of Manhattan.

I agree with Kunstler in principle, but I don’t think this book would make any non-believers convert. Even if they did, it wouldn’t make any difference. No matter what anyone thinks, the real estate developers will go on ahead building god-awful suburbs until there isn’t any profit left in it. Thankfully, that day doesn’t appear to be too far off.

I give “Home from Nowhere” 3 Jihadis out of 5.

3 Jihadis out of 5
3 Jihadis out of 5

2 thoughts on “Nowhere Book”

  1. In my experience many of the newest suburbs are less god-awful than the ones built 20 years ago. They’re still pretty bad, but decent quality bike paths seem to be an important amenity these days.

  2. That hasn’t been my experience here in the Harrisburg area. A have seen probably 20 new developments go in since I moved here, and I can only think of one of them that has a bike path, and that one doesn’t even go anywhere, it just kind of runs for 100 yards along the collector road and ends.

    Most of our rails-to-trails are out in the countryside and connect one corn field to another. They are great for recreational/fitness riding, but there really aren’t much use for daily transportation.

    You live in a more enlightened area than i do, with your bicycle super-highways and whatnot 🙂

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