A few years back, Bruegmann wrote Sprawl: A Compact History, an exaltation of low-density growth. It called for cities to double-down on all the conventions and mistakes of the previous 50 years. It was a disturbingly anachronistic, but it was provocative, and it was passionate.
It seems that these days there's still plenty of in urbanist literature, but, for better or worse, provocation is getting harder to come by.
A few weeks ago the nation's public radio listeners let out a collective sigh of lament when the Tappet Brothers announced the discontinuation of Car Talk. Cars are so much of who we are that it's no wonder that Car Talk was public radio's highest rated show. It's also no wonder that there's no outcry for a "Public Transit Talk" - though two authors are trying to change that.
The mere existence of Planning Los Angeles speaks volumes about its subject. It's hard to imagine any other city ï¿½ especially one as relatively young as Los Angeles is ï¿½ that could inspire a book with over 40 distinct essays by an impressive array of academics and practitioners.
Over the past few years, publishers have put out enough books on urban sustainability to make Al Gore blush. Unfortunately, making a city sustainable takes a lot longer than does writing a book about making cities sustainable. So while green fatigue may have crept in, 2011 brought an eclectic array of books about urbanism and, in particular, about California. CP&DR has received some captivating titles this year, and somehow, California (or at least Los Angeles) continues to fascinate authors and photographers alike.
Just in case you thought that suburbanization of the 20th century was a joint venture between God, the invisible hand, and a pot of gold delivered by the Freedom Fairy, Earl Swift's Big Roads might make you think again.
A great deal of literature has already anointed the hero in the fight against climate change: the city. Beginning with David Owens' Green Metropolis and including the work of Paul Hawken, Ed Glaeser, and countless others, the city has come to symbolize all the ways that humans can live densely and tread lightly on the Earth.
These accolades might be premature. In his brief but wide-ranging book Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in a Hotter Future, Matthew Kahn renders no such heroes.