Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tell us what you really think

James Howard Kunstler weighs in on Robert Bruegmann's "Sprawl" with this review. If you're familiar with the book, and familiar with Kunstler, you won't be surprised to learn that Kunstler hates the book as much as he hates the phenomenon its title describes:

Despite his boatloads of statistics, Bruegmann is just flat-out wrong in many of his positions and virtually all of his conclusions. At the center of his thesis is the unquestioned assumption that the suburban project can continue indefinitely, that it is a good thing, that we will get more of it, and we ought to stop carping and enjoy it. His book fails entirely to acknowledge the fact that we are entering a permanent global energy crisis that will put an end to the drive-in utopia whether people like it or not. This singular harsh fact obviates all the rationalizations brought to the quixotic defense of suburbia.

I hope to write about Bruegmann's book soon at my other blog, but for now I'll say this: While Kunstler scores some points in his review (and takes some typical cheap shots), he confirms one of the Bruegmann's central points, which is that much of the criticism of sprawl is based on subjective, aesthetic judgments made by people who scorn the choices freely made by their fellow citizens. (And I say that as someone who regularly criticizes those choices myself.) Kunstler's review is a good example of how two people can look at the same set of facts and come to radically different conclusions.

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