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Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took…
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Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York's Master…

by Anthony Flint

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This book tries, and succeeds, to do many things at once. It is a biography of Jane Jacobs the author, journalist, activist and mother who helped redefine urban planning and cities themselves. It is also a biography of Robert Moses, the skilled manager who dominated New York public works for decades. And finally it charts developments in urban planning throughout the 20th century, especially the rise and fall of modernism.

Anthony Flint's work reads almost like a novel at times, switching from Jacobs to Moses to explanatory passages with ease. Flint presents even-handed view of the Manhattan battles and avoids falling into the trap of demonizing Robert Moses. Flint also manages to switch between covering the micro level of Manhattan neighborhood politics to the international highway revolt and developments in academic thought.

Although maybe a bit light for serious urban scholars, this is a great read for anybody who's ever enjoyed a bustling neighborhood street. ( )
3 vote JHFrazier | Jun 11, 2011 |
Jane Jacobs, author, thinker, and neighborhood activist, passed away in 2006. This book, published in 2010, offers a sympathetic biography, with a particular focus on her involvement in three neighborhood fights in New York, all against projects championed by power broker Robert Moses: Washington Square Park; Greenwich Village; and the Lower Manhattan Expressway. Although it is written to stand independently, and would make a great read on its own, the book also serves as an excellent companion to Jacobs' Death and Life of Great American Cities, as the information Flint provides on Jacob's professional background, and the tactics used in each of the neighborhood fights, places Death and Life in perspective. This is not a comprehensive biography, and it largely sidesteps Jacobs' later intellectual and activist life in Toronto. As others have noted, Flint strikes a careful balance; while he clearly admires Jacobs, he also presents her adversaries' perspectives, and acknowledges the tremendous impact Robert Moses had on New York's overall structure, for better and worse. ( )
  bezoar44 | Jan 18, 2011 |
Great Backgrounder

This is a decently written non-fictional work about the well publicized battles between the quintessential modernist Robert Moses and his arch-nemesis and modernism's grandest critic in Jane Jacobs. Although Anthony Flint offers no new analytical insight into modernism, Flint does a good job in weaving in between stories to deliver a well-written biography.

Written to the level of the average reader, I am sure this book will be of interest to anyone studying postwar urban development. ( )
  bruchu | Oct 11, 2009 |
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Mr. Flint neatly summarizes all three battles between Jacobs and her forces and Moses and his. He captures Mr. Moses’s pique at being stymied. “There is nobody against this,” he sputtered about the Washington Square Park plan. “Nobody, nobody, nobody but a bunch of, a bunch of mothers.”
 
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Documents the 1968 clash between activist writer Jane Jacobs and urban-planning giant Robert Moses over a planned expressway in New York City, exploring how Jacobs' eventual victory reshaped the ways in which people respond to urban renewal projects.

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