Dark Age Ahead

Publisher: Vintage Canada
Visionary thinker Jane Jacobs uses her authoritative work on urban life and economies to show us how we can protect and strengthen our culture and communities.

In Dark Age Ahead, Jane Jacobs identifies five pillars of our culture that we depend on but which are in serious decline: community and family; higher education; the effective practice of science; taxation and government; and self-policing by learned professions. The decay of these pillars, Jacobs contends, is behind such ills as environmental crisis, racism and the growing gulf between rich and poor; their continued degradation could lead us into a new Dark Age, a period of cultural collapse in which all that keeps a society alive and vibrant is forgotten.

But this is a hopeful book as well as a warning. Jacobs draws on her vast frame of reference -- from fifteenth-century Chinese shipbuilding to zoning regulations in Brampton, Ontario -- and in highly readable, invigorating prose offers proposals that could arrest the cycles of decay and turn them into beneficent ones. Wise, worldly, full of real-life examples and accessible concepts, this book is an essential read for perilous times.


From the Hardcover edition.

READ AN EXCERPT

CHAPTER ONE

The Hazard

This is both a gloomy and a hopeful book.

The subject itself is gloomy. A Dark Age is a culture's dead end. We in North America and Western Europe, enjoying the many benefits of the culture conventionally known as the West, customarily think of a Dark Age as happening once,...
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PRAISE FOR

“Jane Jacobs: guru, philosopher, thinker, elder … radical.”
National Post

“Jacobs argues that what she calls the 'five pillars of our culture' are in jeopardy. These comprise families and communities, higher education, science and technology, taxes and governmental power, and, finally, the self-policing of learned professions. . . . Jacobs can write, and so by the end her arguments and admonitions all appear persuasive and disquieting. Crisp, entertaining, scholarly, scary.”
Kirkus Review

“A treat to read for the way it snaps our perceptions into focus.”
The San Francisco Chronicle

“The clairvoyance of her plain-spoken prose has, for the past half-century, been astonishing.”
Toronto Star

“We will ignore her predictions at our peril. Her latest book on cities and civilization could not have come at a more appropriate time…. Anyone living in a city needs to read this book…. It’s a call to action delivered in a readable and engrossing fashion. I needed this book. We all need to pay greater attention to how we are fouling our own nest.”
Calgary Herald

“Dense with dynamic thoughts and delivered in a way that is simultaneously concise, ruminative and non-confrontational.”
The Vancouver Sun

“If the moment has come to announce the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, let us be thankful the job has fallen to someone has clear-eyed and compassionate as legendary urban critic Jane Jacobs.”
The Georgia Straight

Praise for Jane Jacobs:
“Probably no single thinker has done more in the last fifty years to transform our ideas about the nature of urban life.”
Chicago Tribune

“[Jacobs] is a thinker of wondrous acumen and curiosity looking still deeper into the human condition.”
The Globe and Mail

“Jane Jacobs has become more than a person. She is an adjective.”
Toronto Life