Of the public intellectuals who came to prominence in the 1960s, many have excelled Jane Jacobs in the depth of their influence, but few have excelled her in sheer breadth of influence. Mrs. Jacobs’s first book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, appeared in 1961, three years after she began her journalistic career, at the age of forty-two, as a member of the editorial staff of the now defunct Architectural Forum. The book, an at times downright uncivil assault on the reigning orthodoxies of city planning and city development, grew out of a handful of articles she had written, as well as out of some now legendary speeches that she delivered as a member of the audience at various planners’ conferences. Since 1961, The Death and Life of Great American Cities has never been out of print, and has sold some 250,000 copies and been translated into six languages. That such a book has remained continuously in print for...


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