Genius of Common Sense

Jane Jacobs and the Story of The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Publisher: Tundra Books
Three books, all written by women in the early 1960s, changed the way we looked at the world and ourselves: Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, and Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities. All three books created revolutions in their respective spheres of influence, and nothing affected city planning and architecture -- or the way we think about how life is lived in densely packed urban centers -- more than Jane Jacobs's far-sighted polemic.

Here is the first book for young people about this heroine of common sense, a woman who never attended college but whose observations, determination, and independent spirit led her to far different conclusions than those of the academics who surrounded her. Illustrated with almost a hundred images, including a great number of photos never before published, this story of a remarkable woman will introduce her ideas and her life to young readers, many of whom have grown up in neighborhoods that were saved by her insights. It will inspire young people -- and readers of all ages -- and demonstrate that we learn vital life lessons from observing and thinking, and not just accepting what passes as "conventional wisdom."


"No stodgy history text... Genius of Common Sense throbs with [Jacobs's] passionate struggles... a handsome book, loaded with primary sources like photographs and contemporary news accounts that bring alive these stories for any teenager wondering how she can make a difference in the world." --Ruth Conniff, New York Times

"Jacobs's exemplary life story is well enough told by Glenna Lang and Marjory Wunsch to engage young readers and interest their elders as well." --Jason Epstein, New York Review of Books