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Better Together: Restoring the American Community [Paperback]

Robert Putnam , Lewis Feldstein , Donald Cohen

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Book Description

21 Feb 2005
For his new book Robert Putnam visited a number of places across America where individuals and groups are engaged in unusual forms of social activism and civic renewal. These are people who are renewing their communities and investing in new forms of 'social capital.' Approximately a dozen such stories of civic innovation are told in this book. They range from a mentoring and reading programme in Philadelphia that brings together retirees and primary school children to a revitalised neighbourhood association and revitalised neighbourhoods in Boston to a successful community organising effort in the impoverished Rio Grande Valley. All across America and the UK such organizations are starting up and thriving, giving hope that the message of BOWLING ALONE has reached people and that civic institutions are taking new forms to adapt to new times and new needs.

Frequently Bought Together

Better Together: Restoring the American Community + Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community + Democracies in Flux: The Evolution of Social Capital in Contemporary Society
Price For All Three: £35.06

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; New edition edition (21 Feb 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743235479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743235471
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.5 x 2.2 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 536,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"The Hartford Courant" If "Bowling Alone" made readers think, perhaps "Better Together" will make them act.

About the Author

Robert D. Putnam is the Professor of International Peace at Harvard University. He is the authour of six previous books, and his articles have appeared in THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE AMERICAN PROSPECT as well as many other publications.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
70 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let's get "Better Together" 23 April 2004
By Christopher W. Cox - Published on
No matter your interest, religious, political, environment, academic, left, right, or center, if you have interest in seeing things change (or stay the same), Better Together: Restoring the American Community by Robert Putnam and Lewis M. Feldstein, with Don Cohen (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003) is a must read.
Better Together tells the stories of twelve different groups: from a community organization to a church, as well as a dance group and a web site, from a union to a branch library, a Fortune 500 corporation and a neighborhood group, to name a few. The stories hold in common the building up of community, of social capital. It is the best book of general interest that I have read in more than a year.
Putnam addresses a critical aspect of how we are brought together as citizens and neighbors. I cannot stress enough how highly I recommend this book.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good portrait of people working together 25 Jun 2007
By Jerry Saperstein - Published on
Robert Putnam dissected what might be the fraying of American community in "Bowling Alone". Here he and co-authors Lewis Feldstein and Don Cohen look at 12 examples of community.

It's quite interesting to see how, for example, branch libraries became social hubs in Chicago. The vignette of CraigsList is dated only a few years later and, in any event, it is difficult to accept CraigsList as as true example of community. It may have been in its earliest days, but is certainly not now. The depiction of Portland may be a bit blindsided in that Portland's activists seem to be against anything and everything, more like Babbit's than enablers of any kind.

On the whole, though, it's an interesting collection of community endeavors. Not truly a complement to "Bowling Alone", but rather a standalone effort.

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Impressed 18 Sep 2010
By Burgundy Damsel - Published on
I had hoped to really like this book, because the theme seemed so pertinent and promising. Instead, I was sadly disappointed. It was very much like watching Oprah. Lots of sunny stories about community turnaround, neatly packaged for consumption, with no individual relevance or useful guidelines for reproducing the effect elsewhere. This is not a book about getting to know your neighbors, or building bridges in your community. Whether this is a failing of the book, or just misleading marketing you can decide.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not sure 27 Jan 2012
By Darlene - Published on
I saw this book at Barnes and Noble. I only skimmed it but it does not seem as good- or as depressing- as Bowling Alone. I agree that it is a very relevant theme but I think the authors need to gather more real-world input and not just paint a rosy picture from just a couple of examples. I think that as a writer, you need to take on the hardest and most entrenched issues and then try to dig through them. When you've reached the bottom, then you start to come back up, gathering solutions to the issue and examples of what did and did not work. This book does not go deep enough and it just skips around among various topics and issues. One of the problems with sociological writing today is that it tends to really focus on the problems but not the solutions. So in that way, I feel that this book succeeds. But I guess it just seems hastily put together and in need of more research.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Community Examples 17 Nov 2009
By GTO - Published on
Wonderful survey of various US groups that have fostered community over time, by the author of Bowling Alone. Groups range from a community dance project in New Hampshire, to student groups making changes in their Wisconsin town, to the city of Portland, a hotbed of community involvement. Some of the examples of community work better than others, with the New Hampshire dance project and the story of a Chicago branch library both being very moving on a human level. Other selections, such as an inter-faith group in Texas and the history of a union at Harvard are more academic and harder to get invested in. The ultimate message is that community can be built, but communication and some strong leaders need to be in place. One conclusion I would question is that civic community needs government involvement to work. The argument behind this conclusion is not spelled out and the book is full of examples where government was not involved, from Saddleback Church to Craigslist, both in California. We do see examples of government being part of the problem, not being response to student's desires in Wisconsin and limiting growth in Portland through green zone initiatives. Still, an interesting cross-section of community around us.
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