The Lost City: Discovering the Forgotten Virtues of Community in the Chicago of the 1950s

Overview

In the spirit of Verlyn Klinkenborg's The Last Fine Time and Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s Colored People, this book reveals how Americans once balanced the demands of modern life with a feeling of community--and how we might do so again.
"If you have time to read only one book this year, make it The Lost City."
--Amitai EtzioniA
"The Lost City is truly a wonderful read, and I found I could hardly put it down."
--Robert D. Putnam, Harvard University
"A powerful and persuasive work, which, if heeded, could go a long way ...
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Overview

In the spirit of Verlyn Klinkenborg's The Last Fine Time and Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s Colored People, this book reveals how Americans once balanced the demands of modern life with a feeling of community--and how we might do so again.
"If you have time to read only one book this year, make it The Lost City."
--Amitai EtzioniA
"The Lost City is truly a wonderful read, and I found I could hardly put it down."
--Robert D. Putnam, Harvard University
"A powerful and persuasive work, which, if heeded, could go a long way toward solving our social ills."
--Heather MacDonald,Wall Street Journal

Millions of Americans yearn for a lost sense of community, for the days when neighbors looked out for one another and families were stable and secure. Ehrenhalt cuts through the fog of nostalgia and immerses readers in the actual sights, sounds and rhythms of life 40 years ago in three different neighborhoods.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Ehrenhalt, the editor of Governing magazine, compares 1950s American mundane life, as experienced in three greater Chicago neighborhoods, to today's times. Almost inevitably, this is an exercise of a conservative world view yielding conservative-affirming results. Ehrenhalt argues that what was lost in the assertion of Sixties liberation politics was the pervasive, sustaining concept of authority. By avoiding the retrospective idealism of nostalgia, however, Ehrenhalt argues a case that should impress, though not convert, liberal readers. In Chicago, his laboratories are white ethnic St. Nick's on the West Side and the South Side's Bronzeville African American enclave. Ehrenhalt concludes with an unconvincing tribute to high Victorianism that mars the balance of his historical observations, yet in sum this makes a good acquisition for libraries supporting urban, community, and American studies.Scott H. Silverman, Bryn Mawr Coll. Lib., Pa.
Mary Carroll
Ehrenhalt, executive editor of "Governing" magazine and author of "The United States of Ambition" 1991, explores what was gained and lost when the children of the 1950s rejected the social bargain that defined their parents' lives. He studies three communities: St. Nicholas of Tolentine parish in the Bungalow Belt on Chicago's Southwest Side; Bronzeville, the narrow South Side strip where segregation forced almost all African Americans to live; and Elmhurst, an older suburb west of the city facing the demands of new subdivisions. Different as these communities were, all three "were" communities: geographically defined, linked by street life and dozens of clubs and organizations, led by widely respected authority figures--including clergymen who cultivated congregants' moral convictions. Ehrenhalt maintains that 1950s adults accepted limited choice, restricted privacy, and sometimes overbearing authority in return for stable communities, jobs, relationships, clear rules, and trusted leaders: a trade-off the majority--though not those excluded from the bargain's payoffs--felt was fair. Their children rebelled against this bargain and are still searching for satisfactory anchors to replace community, authority, and sin. Challenging and provocative.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465041923
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 8/28/1995
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.57 (h) x 1.11 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2000

    Wonderful Eye Opener

    As a college student who was born in 1973 this book gave me the opportunity to connect with my grandparents and have meaningful discussions with my parents (who were part of the 'peace' movement in the 60's). I bought copies of the book for both of them as well. Ehrenhalt has the uncanny ability to make poignant insights on the lost values of the 50's without getting preachy or overly nostalgic. The best parts were his references to how the 50's had a greater respect for authority and how we lost some dear and vital relationships because of the disappearance of Main Street.

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