Synopses & Reviews
For David Kirp, a gifted storyteller and journalist, the concept of community stretches beyond a cliched figure of speech to describe what happens when people make decisions that reshape one another's lives. He has collected a fascinating variety of such stories from across America to re-create the immediate experience of community--tales that signify in their particulars, giving meaning to the much bandied-about idea of civic virtue. They paint a rich picture of how, for better and for worse, Americans live together.
We meet two San Francisco families, one Nicaraguan and the other black, trying to live peacefully with each other; residents in the fire ravaged Berkeley hills, whose greed and architectural ambitions thwart attempts to build the new Eden of their dreams; parents and teachers fighting against long odds to improve the East Harlem public schools; residents of a small southern town caring for a parentless teenager with AIDS; residents of the New Jersey suburb of Mount Laurel deciding whether poor families will be allowed to live in "our town;" and neighbors choosing sides when a black teenager kills his gay white neighbor. While there are real heroes--Ethel Lawrence, the Rosa Parks of the affordable housing movement; and Deborah Meier, tireless advocate for better schools--the stories are mainly about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events.
These beautifully written tales reveal individuals in the process of forming new alliances or falling back on familiar ones, "bowling alone" or promoting the common good. They show us, past all self-delusion, who we really are.
Almost Home is an excellent work of reflection and analysis about contemporary social problems. David Kirp teaches his readers with grace, wit, and fine prose.
"Remarkably well written, deal[s] with important and fascinating issues, and confront[s] social problems that do indeed require new approaches, new techniques, and new spirit that can reduce the pain that disharmony produces."--Roger Starr, Washington Times
Useful and engagingly written
"Kirp shows how the border disputes besetting America's geographic and moral communities play out in . . . racial linguistic and sexual identity."--Washington Post
"Useful and engagingly written"--Michael Kenney, Boston Globe
"Deftly argued, vividly and elegantly written, this collection treats the most vexed and troubling questions of contemporary American life in an engaging and approachable way. The stories not only demonstrate the weakness of the concept of 'community' as a regulating term but also point to the difficulties and the stakes of public conflicts. I came away from my first reading of this book with the sense that I had been traveling through a country far more complicated--both stranger and more familiar--than the one often alluded to in public polemics."--Todd Gitlin, New York University
"Almost Home is an excellent work of reflection and analysis about contemporary social problems. David Kirp teaches his readers with grace, wit, and fine prose."--Donna Leff, Northwestern University