Citizen Reader's Holiday Gift Guide: Wrestling with Moses
17 December 2010
One of the best books I read last year was Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City.
I know I said enough with the heavy nonfiction reads, but I don't think this one really qualifies as "heavy." It's serious, but for one thing, it's not a really long book. And even though it is a serious historical story, it's also a very personality-driven and lively one.
In it, author Anthony Flint describes how Jane Jacobs (author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which I still desperately want to read), a New York City resident and budding urban activist, took on Robert Moses, the New York city planner/builder who dreamed of dropping huge highways right through neighborhoody parts of Manhattan, in the 1950s and 60s. It's a fabulous book, and tells the story from both the urban design and personal activism points of view. I finished this one with a true appreciation for yet another feisty lady--Jane Jacobs--and the rare feeling that individuals can (or at least they were successful once) in taking on unnecessary "progress." Even if you can't think of anyone to buy this book for, consider gifting it to yourself.
So, who might like this book?
Anyone with an interest in or love for New York City.
Anyone with an interest in urban design or architecture.
Readers who enjoy character-driven histories.
Feminist readers who will find a lot to like in feisty (and very smart) lady Jane Jacobs.