About this title:
Nearly forty years after The Death and Life of Great American Cities forever changed the field of urban studies, Jane Jacobs--one of the few contemporary thinkers whose works will remain in print for generations--brings us a modern classic on economies and ecology. Original and eloquent, this new book looks at the connection between the economy and nature, arguing that the principles of development, common to both systems, are the proper subject of economic study.
The Nature of Economies is written in the form of a Platonic dialogue, a conversation over coffee among five contemporary New Yorkers. The question they discuss is: Does economic life obey the same rules as those governing the systems in nature? For example, can the way fields and forests maximize their intakes and uses of sunlight teach us something about how economies expand wealth and jobs and can do this in environmentally beneficial ways? The underlying question is both simple and profound, and the answers that emerge will shape the way people think about how economies really work.
The New York Times described Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities as "first of all a work of literature." The accessibility of her prose-- The New Criterion called it "majestic"--stands as Jacobs's hallmark. She is the rarest of analytic thinkers, both an economic visionary and an artist. Examining complex systems with the wit, style, and clear eye of the masterly essayist, in The Nature of Economies Jacobs once again accomplishes the near impossible: She fundamentally challenges some of the established principles of economics while writing in a style that enthralls the general reader.
Over the past 40 years, Jane Jacobs has produced an acclaimed series of analytical essays that examine the development of complex human systems and environments in a manner that's as literary as it is visionary. Her latest, The Nature of Economies, continues this artistic and provocative tradition by dissecting relationships between economics and ecology through a multilayered discourse around the fundamental premise that "human beings exist wholly within nature as part of a natural order." In a style reminiscent of the cinematic My Dinner with Andre, Jacobs gives us a captivating ongoing conversation between five contemporary New Yorkers who sip coffee and voice accepted, fact-based theories along with subjective but solid opinions regarding the way our society's fractal-like development is actually dependent upon "the same universal principles that the rest of nature uses." Digressing onto various and sundry paths as such dialogues always do--albeit, this time, on a very specific and methodical route as prescribed by Jacobs--the characters mull over business cycles, animal husbandry, habitat destruction, the implications of standardization and monopoly, competition in nature, the obsolescence of computers, and much, much more. This book is recommended for the eclectically curious who welcome the opportunity to eavesdrop on such stimulating table talk, even while lamenting the fact they can't join in. -- Howard Rothman
From the Back Cover:
"What does Jane Jacobs do? She thinks and she writes books that have enormous impact around the world, particularly among urban planners, architects and economist."--Sid Adilman, The Toronto Star
"[Jacob's] prose is majestic: difficult ideas are expounded with great clarity--I believe that she has few peers among living American writers of prose."--Francis Morrone, The New Criterion
"Jane Jacobs is an indispensable provocateur."--D. D. Guttenplan, Village Voice
"Probably no single thinker has doen more in the last 50 years to transform our ideas about the nature of urban life."--David Warsh, Chicago Tribune
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