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A vivid, surprising portrait of the civic and economic reinvention taking place in America, town by town and generally out of view of the national media. A realistically positive and provocative view of the country between its coasts.
For the last five years, James and Deborah Fallows have been traveling across America in a single-engine prop airplane. Visiting dozens of towns, they have met hundreds of civic leaders, workers, immigrants, educators, environmentalists, artists, public servants, librarians, business people, city planners, students, and entrepreneurs to take the pulse and understand the prospects of places that usually draw notice only after a disaster or during a political campaign.
The America they saw is acutely conscious of its problems - from economic dislocation to the opioid scourge - but it is also crafting solutions, with a practical-minded determination at dramatic odds with the bitter paralysis of national politics. At times of dysfunction on a national level, reform possibilities have often arisen from the local level. The Fallowses describe America in the middle of one of these creative waves. Their view of the country is as complex and contradictory as America itself, but it also reflects the energy, the generosity and compassion, the dreams, and the determination of many who are in the midst of making things better. Our Towns is the story of their journey - and an account of a country busy remaking itself.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By B. Gaston on 05-24-18
Excellent premise, please hire a reader.
FIRST: Listen to an audio sample before buying, and make sure you hear both readers and can tolerate them.
The premise of the book is wonderful. I have deep personal connections to a couple of the towns they focused on in the book, and they were spot on and very accurate in their portrayal of both of them. I would be willing to extrapolate this to all of the other places they visited. Which you can probably safely do, as the storyline starts to weave and loop back on itself and it feels like a lot of the material was copy/pasted from one town to the next. The "travel narrative" parts of the story were exceptionally well done, including a very interesting view on the exercise of traveling by small plane.
The Fallows are exceptional reporters. They are slightly above mediocre long format writers. But they are TERRIBLE audio book readers. He has the "whistle S" to the point of physical pain on the part of the listener. How was this not caught in recording, or at least in post? It must have pegged the instruments. While her voice is more tolerable, her pacing, inflection, and enunciation are grating, a bit like a clearer voiced Diane Rehm, but more intense.
I'll finish it, but it's a bit of a slog after the first third, and once I'm done, I can turn up the bands my equalizer above 600Hz again.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By researchbiker on 05-11-18
Other reviews have detailed the basics of this book. However it is more than just a fascinating travelogue. The smart and articulate authors explored and researched the towns they visited to find out what worked and what didn't. The result is a study that should be read and absorbed by civic leaders, planners, economic development types as well as citizens at large.
I listened to the Audible version which was read by the authors, but was so impressed I've ordered the book also. The story of the development of the book was featured on CBS's Sunday Morning last week. A terrific read, highly recommended!
8 of 9 people found this review helpful