This Land: The Battle over Sprawl and the Future of America / Edition 1

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Despite a modest revival in city living, Americans are spreading out more than ever—into "exurbs" and "boomburbs" miles from anywhere, in big houses in big subdivisions. We cling to the notion of safer neighborhoods and better schools, but what we get, argues Anthony Flint, is long commutes, crushing gas prices and higher taxes—and a landscape of strip malls and office parks badly in need of a makeover.

This Land tells the untold story of development in America—how the landscape is shaped by a furious clash of political, economic and cultural forces. It is the story of burgeoning anti-sprawl movement, a 1960s-style revolution of New Urbanism, smart growth, and green building. And it is the story of landowners fighting back on the basis of property rights, with free-market libertarians, homebuilders, road pavers, financial institutions, and even the lawn-care industry right alongside them.

The subdivisions and extra-wide roadways are encroaching into the wetlands of Florida, ranchlands in Texas, and the desert outside Phoenix and Las Vegas. But with up to 120 million more people in the country by 2050, will the spread-out pattern cave in on itself? Could Americans embrace a new approach to development if it made sense for them?

A veteran journalist who covered planning, development, and housing for the Boston Globe for sixteen years and a visiting scholar in 2005 at the Harvard Design School, Flint reveals some surprising truths about the future and how we live in This Land.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews


Those who truly hate sprawl and want to fight back would be well advised to read this book.

Boston Globe

This Land offers a provocative and insightful overview of the challenges of sprawl.

Northeastern Naturalist

Well researched, well written... very personable and readable. Recommended for all readers.

Library Journal
In this engaging, vivid, and provocative work, journalist Flint (Boston Globe) consolidates years of covering the causes and effects of sprawl (unplanned suburban expansion calling for increased reliance upon cars). His sympathies for those attempting to prevent further sprawl are apparent, but he still approaches various groups with a dispassionately critical eye, examining the so-called New Urbanists dedicated to walking neighborhoods, smart-growth proponents focused on transportation structures, and even Earth Liberation Front activists deemed terrorists by the FBI. Flint acknowledges the various shortcomings of these disparate efforts but saves his most severe criticism for "Sprawl, Inc.," the powerful coterie of libertarians, academics, and developers who use misleading rhetoric to label any government intervention social engineering, thus blithely disregarding both the intentional government policies that initially shaped suburbanization and the continuing, often hidden subsidization of sprawl. Concluding with suggestions intended to frame sprawl opposition as conservative rather than liberal, Flint neglects affordable housing but generally makes a creative and convincing case. Written with analytical rigor but also a crafty journalistic eye for the human-interest story that crystallizes an abstract theme, this book merits inclusion in any library and may spark discussion as misguided housing patterns reach crisis proportions.-Whitney Strub, UCLA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Midwest Book Review
This Land is an important discussion of the future of America, its cities, and what lies outside of it.
New Urban News - Philip Langdon
A panoramic and extraordinarily up-to-date account of the struggle over how America builds.
Architecture Boston - Lawrence Bluestone
Flint provides a historical perspective on how we became a suburban nation... with the easy-flowing, narrative skill of a journalist.
Urban Affairs Review - Tom Urbaniak
As an inquiry into the backlash against 'smart growth'... it offers valuable insights and unsettling observations from the frontlines of the battles over land use and suburban development.
Berkeley Planning Journal - Jackie Begley
Cear, well-written overview of the sprawl debate.
Boston Globe
This Land offers a provocative and insightful overview of the challenges of sprawl.
Northeastern Naturalist
Well researched, well written... very personable and readable. Recommended for all readers.
Those who truly hate sprawl and want to fight back would be well advised to read this book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801884191
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 4/7/2006
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony Flint is a fellow and director of public affairs at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is the author of Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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