Comparative Book Review #1: Introducing the Books

Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing a comparative book review for my Urban Geography class. One book is 40 years the other’s senior.

The first work I’ve chosen is The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. (1961) This was an obvious choice for me for five reasons: the book is iconic in my future profession, it was written by a woman, its perspective is one common among many I’ll be working with in the future (initially outside my profession as a concerned citizen, but becoming more knowledgeable over time), it covers a wide range of topics, and the age is ripe for comparing to my second text.

The cover to my copy of Jacobs' premiere piece

The book I will be comparing Jacobs to is The American City: What Works and What Doesn’t (2nd Ed.) by Alexander Garvin. (2002) This is written in a textbook tone, making comparisons systematic and easy to summarize. What I’d really like to see is a technique either be praised or shunned by Jacobs, and the same be treated oppositely by Garvin 40 years later.

The second edition is from 2002 and will be more relevant to my study than its predecessor

You are all, of course, welcome to join me in my readings and analyze with me. All arguments are appreciated here.

Let’s see if some faith in human advancement can be restored after this analysis 40 years in the making…


About Aascot Holt

Staff News Writer for the Easterner. Urban and Regional Planning Major. Senior. Has fingers in all proverbial pies.

One thought on “Comparative Book Review #1: Introducing the Books

  1. Good morning Ascot, I hope all is well with you! Thanks so very much for sharing your Blog with me, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it has got me thinking about several different things (which is the point)!

    In no particular order here are a few of the thoughts that come to mind:

    1. I am excited about your interest in comparative literature! I don’t think that we read enough and I’d like to see more reading along the lines of what you’ve suggested in the curriculum. Another book that would pair well with Jane Jacobs is The Triumph of the Cities by Edward Glaeser. He refers frequently to her work and in some instances presents an alternative perspective, so it would lend itself well to a comparative analysis.

    2. I don’t know how well this would fit within the system at Eastern, but if you and a few other students were interested I’d be happy to explore sponsoring a class/independent study or something like that where we read several different books and discuss them and/or write a paper or two. A planers book club so to speak!

    3. Great minds think alike! I have been wondering about sim city as a teaching tool. I haven’t played it in years but as I recall it highlights the comprehensive nature of lambing and the relationship between land uses, capital facilities, and limited resources. I’ve been wondering if the makers have an educational support group or some type of training for educators interested in bringing it into the classroom. Thanks for gettinge thinking about it again!

    4. I really enjoyed your thoughts regarding the cornerstone of your individuality! Thanks for sharing that! That’s what I was speaking to in class yesterday when I was talking about finding your own voice. I think it is important that each of us find a way(s) for us to express ourselves that is true to who we are. I would continue to explore the feedback you have received, but ultimately have confidence in yourself and your abilities to determine what works best for you. So good for you!

    5. You have a very comfortable/accessible writing style, I look forward to reading more! Keep up the good work!

    Thanks again for sharing this with me and have a good weekend!

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