intriguing new book on jane jacobs and her transporation (email of the week)

From the book's co-author:

I was glad that you urged "lazy students" via your Human Transit blog to read The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and I enjoyed reading your thoughtful commentary for the City Builder's Book Club on Jane Jacobs and transportation!

Glenna lang coverI thought I'd let you know about a book that might have escaped your notice called Genius of Common Sense: Jane Jacobs and the Story of "The Death and Life of Great American Cities." It's just come out in paperback with a new cover featuring a heretofore unpublished 1963 photo of Jane alongside her main mode of transportation – her bicycle – on the streets of New York. 

Genius of Common Sense was originally intended for young adults but has caught the attention of the likes of Robert Caro, Jason Epstein, and Robert Campbell as a solid introduction to the life and work of Jane Jacobs for adults too. With more than 100 images, it follows her through the publication of Death and Life and her New York battles against urban renewal and expressways. 

Sounds interesting!  Anyone want to write a review as a guest post?

2 Responses to intriguing new book on jane jacobs and her transporation (email of the week)

  1. Benjamin Hemric September 27, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Don’t know if I have the time for a full review just now, but I also think that this book is probably the best “book” on Jacobs that’s been produced so far. (This is excepting the book, “Ideas that Matter,” which is not a conventional bio, but mostly a collection of writings by and about Jacobs, etc. And this is also excepting, of course, some some journal articles, including those by the academics who’ve been doing archival research on Jacobs.)
    Haven’t read “Genius of Common Sense” for a while (but just so happened to notice it on my bookshelf the other day, and may re-read it during the next few days), but here are some of the reasons, I think (it’s been a while), I liked it:
    For one thing, the authors have really done their research and have not automatically (and sloppily) reprinted a number of errors that have appeared in earlier non-scholarly books and articles on Jacobs.
    In my opinion, the authors also seem to have understood Jacobs’ work somewhat better than previous writers, and this book seems to be less ideologically slanted than other works on Jacobs that I’ve read (although I vaguely recall having a slight disagreement, here or there, with their interpretation, also).
    I think the title of the book, itself, kind of illustrates their superior understanding of Jacobs and their ability to communicate it well. While a bit awkward, the expression seems to really capture Jacobs (who also seemed to favor forthrightly awkward titles/names, by the way), and it seems to have been adopted (rightly so) as “the” epitaph for Jacobs (at least so far).
    They also have some unusual and informative photos.
    Benjamin Hemric
    Thurs., 09/27/12, 11:50 am

  2. Sean Gillis September 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    Sounds very interesting. No matter how much gets written about Jane her ideas almost always seem fresh and profound. I’m up for reading Genius of Common Sense and writing a review.

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