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.
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