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The following books may be reviewed more completely or ordered through the links below.

The Vanishing Automobile
by Randall O'Toole

A master work that strips bare the myths of smart growth and other "politically correct" planning doctrines.


The Mystery of Capital
by Hernando DeSoto

In what may be one of the most important economics books in history, Hernando DeSoto suggests that the lack of formal real property rights is at the core of why capitalism has been unsuccessful outside the developed world.


Transport in Europe
by Christian Gerondeau

Gerondeau, a former top public transport official in Paris, shows that public transport and high speed rail have failed to reduce traffic congestion in Europe, and worse, that there is not hope for achiebving such results. His description of European transport trends surprisingly mirrors trends in the United states. As in the US, trip patterns have become far too dispersed for mass transportation modes to increase their markets. He calls for transport policy based upon fact, rather than ideology.


A History of London
by Stephen Inwood

A masterful volume of more than 1,000 pages covering London from the beginning to the present day. His treatment of the Green Belt and urban development over the past few decades is particularly relevant to discussions of suburbanization.

Laws of the Landscape
by Pietro Nivola

See book review by Greg Vlietstra

City Life
by Witold Rybczynski

One of the most objective and effective histories of urban and suburban development in the United States and Canada. It is mercifully lacking in the doctinaire tone so typical of recent offerings on this subject. Rybczynski shows that the preference for low density living is a historically ingrained characteristic, and he finds characteristics to both criticize and praise in the current urban form.

Driving Forces
by James Dunn

Rutgers professor James Dunn offers what is undoubtedly the most accurate characterization of the anti- automobile crusade yet. He characterizes the movement as being more an ideological attack on personal mobility than being driven primariliy by any of the constantly changing environmental doctrines for limiting automobile use. Yet Dunn is no blind advocate of continuing the policies of the past. He offers a number of constructive solutions for improving the relationship between the automobile and the overwhelming majority of people for whom it is not a luxury, but a necessity.

Derailed: What Went Wrong and What to Do About America's Passenger Trains
by Joseph Vranich

Vranich, a former Amtrak official and former Executive Director of the US High Speed Rail Association documents the sorry state of Amtrak service and finances. Perhaps most telling is an embarrassing table indicating that many passenger train routes are operated at slower speeds today than 50 years ago. Vranich's prescription is a range of measures to better match passenger rail capabilities to the market. Vranich now serves on the Amtrak Reform Council as an appointee of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.

The Future Once Happened Here : New York, D.C., L.A., and the Fate of America's Big Cities
by Fred Siegel

Siegel chronicles the failed social strategies that have contributed to the decline of three of America's most important cities. Siegel shows that the cities have been abandoned by middle income people because they have failed in their fundamental duty of security (crime prevention), failed to educate children effectively, failed to provide quality public services and failed to maintain a competitive tax structure.


An Empire Wilderness
by Robert D. Kaplan

Kaplan visits the American west and provides an engaging description of social trends. He presents an effective description of the demise of St. Louis and useful observations on the Oklahoma panhandle, Tucson, southern California and more. Like so many others, is seduced into believing the myths of urban planning in Portland, which he notes (quite wrongly) has avoided the sprawl typical of other US urban areas.


Cleaner Air and Better Transport
Tata Energy Research Institute

Provides a useful perspective on the intractable air pollution problems of India, especially New Delhi, which has emerged as one of the world's mega-cities (by some estimates now comprising 10 million or more residents). The manuscript provides a succinct primer on air pollution, its causes and effects. Seven strategies for mitigation are proposed.


Paris: Capital of Europe
by Johannes Willms

Cities in Civilization
by Sir Peter Hall

The Public Purpose welcomes suggestions for additions to this book list.

(c) 2000 --- Wendell Cox Consultancy --- Permission granted to use with attribution.
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