Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wrestling With Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City by Anthony Flint (2009)

On August 4th, The New York Times Book Review published a review and excerpt from a book about Scranton native (and Central High School alumni) Jane Jacobs (1916-2006), urban renewal activist and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities. The book, Wrestling With Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City, was published in July 2009.

To read Chapter One from the book, titled "The Girl From Scranton," click here.

To place a hold on Jane Jacob's The Death and Life of Great American Cities, click here.

Much thanks to both Evelyn Gibbons and Peter Metrinko for this reference.


Benjamin Hemric said...

[Hope this isn't a double-post!]


Hi! I just discovered your interesting website while doing research for an article on Jane Jacobs that I hope to write. You may know this already, but in case you don't, as a research librarian you might be interested in two other books about Jacobs that also mention Jacob's Scranton years:

1) "Ideas That Matter" (1997, Ginger Press -- but out of print) is an unconventional biography / "autobiography" (of sorts). The book is a wonderful collection of articles by and about Jane Jacobs and includes an article from the March 22, 1995 issue of the "Scranton Times," "Jade Writes Potpourri." This article, by a childhood friend of Jacobs, talks about what a mischiefmaker Jacobs could be as a girl: spitting down a stairwell at school, and running up a "down escalator" at the "Scranton Dry Goods" store.

It also includes some wonderful photos (often with captions written by Jacobs -- this is the "autobiograhpical" part). One photo is of a grandmotherly Jacobs standing in front of her childhood home at 1712 Monroe Avenue (located in an area which, I've read elsewhere, seems to be called Dunmore -- which I'm guessing is a suburban jurisdiction that is just over the Scranton city line).

2) "Jane Jacobs Urban Visionary" is a biography by Alice Sparberg Alexiou that came out in 2006. It has a photo of downtown Scranton, circa 1935.

I must say I don't think either "Urban Visionary" or "Wrestling with Moses" are good books on their subjects -- but "Urban Visionary" does contain some interesting info about Scranton (which the author apparently traveled to in order to research her book). The book, "Ideas That Matter" (which both of the other books seem to rely upon heavily) is terrific -- but, alas, out of print!

Benjamin Hemric

Thursday, October 15, 2009 -- 4:39 p.m.

Reference Department, Albright Memorial Library said...

Thanks for the info., Benjamin. They both look like excellent books :)

Benjamin Hemric said...

P.S. -- I forgot to mention one other recent book about Jane Jacobs that talks about her Scranton roots: "Genius of Common Sense," by Glenna Lang and Marjory Wunsch. It's a book for young adults, and it discusses Jacobs' childhood years in Scranton / Dunmore and her later efforts as a young writer to get the area more work during World War II.

It has about ten pages on Scranton with about five photos.

Here's a link to the Amazon review:

Fri., October 16, 2009 -- 9:26 p.m.