Dark Age Ahead

Dark Age Ahead

Book - 2004
Average Rating:
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Visionary thinker Jane Jacobs uses her authoritative work on urban life and economies to show us how we can protect and strengthen our culture and communities. In Dark Age Ahead, Jane Jacobs identifies five pillars of our culture that we depend on but which are in serious decline: community and family; higher education; the effective practice of science; taxation and government; and self-policing by learned professions. The decay of these pillars, Jacobs contends, is behind such ills as environmental crisis, racism and the growing gulf between rich and poor; their continued degradation could lead us into a new Dark Age, a period of cultural collapse in which all that keeps a society alive and vibrant is forgotten. But this is a hopeful book as well as a warning. Jacobs draws on her vast frame of reference -- from fifteenth-century Chinese shipbuilding to zoning regulations in Brampton, Ontario -- and in highly readable, invigorating prose offers proposals that could arrest the cycles of decay and turn them into beneficent ones. Wise, worldly, full of real-life examples and accessible concepts, this book is an essential read for perilous times. From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, c2004.
ISBN: 9780679313090
0679313095
Branch Call Number: 909.83 J17
Characteristics: 241 p.

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ANITRA L FREEMAN
Sep 30, 2017

Prescient. I wish more people had read it, years ago.

m
mclarjh
May 09, 2017

Uneven, more rants than logic here. Reads like a series of linked opinion editorials.

w
wyenotgo
Apr 14, 2017

I just went back to re-read this book, ten years on, to get a re-assessment of its worth and validity in the light of recent events. Sad to say, apart from having correctly predicted the US housing crash, it doesn't hold up very well. Jacobs betrays her own prejudices and socio-economic bias, presenting her opinions as facts, the very sin she decries in those who oppose her. I suppose she meant well but in several places she comes across as ill-informed and willfully blind to facts that would weaken her argument.
Case in point is her ludicrous assertion that closing a roadway makes traffic "disappear"! When I drove to work every day in Toronto for 17 years and found my regular route closed or congested, I did what everyone else did: I took another route. By her admission, she never drove or owned a car. How could she possibly know what she was talking about? At the other end of the urban-rural spectrum, she states on pg. 162 that former "bread baskets" have become redundant, indicating that we have a surplus of arable farmland -- that despite a world population that has more than doubled in just the past few years. She seemed to be unaware that vast areas of farmland in areas such as the Great Plains, North Africa and Australia are becoming much less productive due to widespread and chronic drought. Gaffes such as that, along with many others destroy her credibility, which is unfortunate because we need people with the courage (and the academic rigor to support it) to challenge today's leaders and help us find real solutions to real issues. This book doesn't cut it.

s
StarGladiator
Jan 22, 2013

Sadly, I believe this may have been Ms. Jacobs final book before her passage. A most clever and brilliant little book (quite short) where she most adeptly and sneakily convinces one of all those pesky little situations really were criminal conspiracies after all, and there actually was collusion among those corporate giants. Recently, on yet another of NPR's propaganda shows (and that's about the only American media I occassionally listen to, but never again), they claimed all this stuff, about General Motors, Firestone, and Sun Oil (Sunococ) and a conspiracy to replace trolleys with their buses, run on their gasoline, using their tires, was all so much "conspiracy theory" nonsense (they must have mentioned their phrase, "conspiracy theory" several dozen times. [I was actually in attendance at those congressional committee hearings in 1975, when retired executives from those three corporations testified, under oath, that they did indeed conspire to do such perfidious activities!] Read Ms. Jacobs' book, please. (Although 99% perfect, she did make one error, whereby she ignores her own advice to "never assume" she unfortunately assumed that the US foreign aid program was really meant to do what its mission state claims --- if only she had read Nomi Prins' "Other People's Money" and Nicholas Shaxson's "Treasure Islands" !!!) Given the state of mind of the average American today, we really have already reached that "dark age" which Ms. Jacobs pondered - - people so ignorant as to be clueless as to how bereft of the most basic knowledge they actually are!

m
mariod
Mar 24, 2011

I reference this all the time. insightful.

cdotha Dec 09, 2010

A great book that just touches the surface of the problems facing society in the coming age. A must read for anyone who has ever wondered what happened to community and how we can begin to fix it, Jacobs manages to create something that is at once both thoroughly digestible and highly informative.

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