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Genius of Common Sense: Jane Jacobs and the Story of The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Genius of Common Sense: Jane Jacobs and the Story of The Death and Life of Great American Cities

by Glenna Lang, Marjory Wunsch

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

This is the story of a remarkable woman, brought up during the Depression and with no college education, who single-handedly changed the way America viewed its cities. Short chapters describe how, from Jacobs's beginnings in Scranton, PA, it was clear that this inquisitive, sometimes obstreperous girl had plans for her future. At 18, she moved to New York to pursue her career as a writer and fell in love with the city. It was there that she had her infamous battles with Robert Moses over urban renewal and did the research for her most famous book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities . Black-and-white photographs, maps, and political cartoons and other reproductions appear on most pages. While the biography is not always a page-turner, Lang and Wunsch are to be commended for introducing a fascinating female role model. Excellent notes and a good index enhance the title's usefulness.-Betty S. Evans, Missouri State University, Springfield

Kirkus Reviews
Jane Jacobs is an unlikely subject for a school assignment, which is unfortunate, as being required to do research would be the most likely way that many readers will discover this brief but comprehensive biography. A writer with varied experience, Jacobs brought a wealth of knowledge along with her personal convictions to her work as an activist and critic of the status quo. At a time when city planners were determined to conquer urban blight by destroying buildings and uprooting communities, Jacobs argued for a vision of cities as vibrant, functioning systems whose positive growth could be fostered. That she did so successfully without a degree and during the 1950s and '60s, a time when women's contributions were often overlooked, is impressive indeed. Better known in Canada, where she moved in 1968, Jacobs may be unfamiliar to many teens, but she is definitely worthy of their attention. Wunsch and Lang have done readers a service in introducing her so effectively, including black-and-white photos and drawings as well as diagrams to augment their text. Push during Women's History Month and at every other opportunity. (Biography. 12 & up)

Product Details

Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.50(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

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