on 27 June 1998
For anyone fascinated by the urban landscape--and who seeks explanation for what they see--this book will probably hold your interest through to the end. It is unquestionably an excellent summation of most research on urban dereliction. I recommend it to anyone who, like me, is fascinated by the decay of American cities and who seeks explanation. However, there are three things that may bother you about the book: 1) the authors state it is a structurationist approach to the topic, but that turns out to be only posturing--it seems more structuralist, in fact, as it presents a world that seems the result of unseen forces acting themselves out through passive marionettes, not people capable of independent action; 2) the author's language is a little thick and somewhat ideosyncratic and, may I add, the tone leaves little doubt that this is the fact of the matter and further discussion of causes and meanings is unnecessary; 3) it does not reflect any of the more interesting possibilities recently evolving on the topic of cities in change--no discussions of narratives, memory, or the reader. Still, it's a great place to start, an excellent background read, and it's packed full of scholarship (even if it's a little dated). And it gives you the story the way most people understand it--if you want to develop a new interpretation, do it--but make sure you read this first!