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Yale anthropologist Jonathan Rieder spent two years living not in New Guinea or up the Amazon but in a place that his academic colleagues probably found even more exotic: the lower-middle-class neighborhood adjacent to New York's Kennedy Airport. There Rieder witnessed close-up the destruction of Roosevelt's coalition by voter revulsion against crime, welfare and casual disorder.
— David Frum
Introduction Danger and Dispossession
Part 1: History
1. The Fenced land
2. Ethnic Tradition
Part 2: TERRITORIAL, SOCIAL, AND CULTURAL THREATS
3. Vulnerable Places
4. The Lost People
5. The Reverence is Gone
Part 3: REACTIONS TO THREAT
6. Striking Back
7. Canarsie Schools for Canarsie Children
8. The Trials of Liberalism
Posted August 10, 2009
This book accurately describes the Canarsie of my youth. I lived through the anti-busing boycotts, school riots, blockbusting, white flight, back room deals at the Thomas Jefferson Democractic Club and general tension. Professor Rieder captured the essence of the polarization and struggles that infested the Community. Despite these tensions, Canarsie was a special place that is nostalgic for many of us who grew up there. It had a bipolar personality - great times but Professor Rieder is on the money with its dark side.
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Posted December 16, 2013
I finally got around to reading this book because I kept seeing it cited by many respected authors writing about post-1960s America. It was well-worth it—a stand-out leader in this genre of micro-studies of neighborhoods under transition. The richness of the account lies in the extensive interviews Rieder conducted in the late 1970s with Italian and Jewish Canarsie residents, giving voice to their fears over declining standards of living and their anger and confusion over the break-up of what they nostalgically remember as culturally cohesive, safe neighborhoods. While the degree of racism expressed was hard-to-take (ubiquitous uses of the N-word and slurs comparing African Americans to animals), Rieder manages to put this bigotry into a nuanced context without excusing it. Granted, the absence of African-American voices gives a lopsided feel to the wider historical narrative; but Rieder justifiably argues that the aim of his project was not a comprehensive portrait but something more specific: namely, to shed light on why the Italians and Jews of Canarsie proved such staunch opponents of integration beyond simply and simplistically pointing to racism. This book remains very relevant for showing how wider global and national economic pressures squeezing working and middle class Americans often get personalized and localized into self-defeating racial resentments more apt to accelerate neighborhood decline than reverse it. (If you like this type of micro-urban research, especially on Jewish and Italian Americans, you might also like Gerald Gamm’s Urban Exodus.)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 7, 2002
In many circles, the reasons given for the decline of US cities are highways and tax-deductible mortgages. This book does a lot of show that the highway/mortgage thesis is very incomplete. After reading this book, it is very difficult to think that it was opposition to integration that emptied our cities of the middle-class. My biggest conclusion from reading this book was that the French handled their urban problems much better than we did. Instead of building housing projects in cities which sooner-or-later rotted the surrounding area, the French built their projects outside of cities, where no preexisting neighborhoods were affected. A criticism of the book is that it is a little dated. The publication date is 1985. There should at least be an epilogue.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 17, 2009
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