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The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome: Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream

ISBN: 978-1-57660-320-8
207 pages
June 2009
The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome: Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream (1576603202) cover image


An incisive look at the consequences of today's costly and damaging suburban lifestyle

In The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome, Bloomberg News' John Wasik exposes the economic, cultural, environmental, and health problems underlying life in suburbia. Wasik provides powerful insights into how the U.S. suburban lifestyle has become unsustainable and what can be done to salvage it. His observations are firmly grounded in exclusive on-the-ground research, interviews with thought leaders, and the latest studies and statistics. The book

  • Exposes the untold truths about suburban home ownership: green isn't always so green, life isn't cheaper after accounting for gas, water, and taxes, and modern suburban living isn't so idyllic considering the toll it takes on our health
  • Includes exclusive research and analysis by experts in the field that debunks the many myths associated with suburban living
  • Explores innovative solutions being developed in cities across the country

The American Dream of moving further from a city to buy a bigger house and find better schools has become a costly nightmare. The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome examines why and what can be done.

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Table of Contents

Preface xi

Introduction: The Foundation Cracks 1

PART 1 A Dream Gone Bad 15

1 False Economics: American Dreamers in the Sunshine State 17

2 Origins of a Dream 27

3 How Debt Addiction Fed a Housing Crisis 39

4 Cul-de-Sac Nation: Symptoms of a Syndrome 55

5 The Spurbing of National Health 67

PART 2 Reinventing Home and Community 75

6 Toward Sustainable Dreams 77

7 Building Smarter 93

8 The Near Death of a Suburb 111

9 Reclaiming the Inner City 123

10 Sustainability and Development: Bridging the Gap 139

11 The Bill Comes Due: Which Places Will Prosper? 153

Epilogue: Cleaning Up, Moving On 171

Notes 175

Index 194

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Author Information

John Wasik is a financial columnist for Bloomberg News and the author of several books. His book The Merchant of Power was praised by Studs Terkel and well reviewed by the New York Times. Wasik has won more than fifteen journalism awards, including several from the National Press Club. He has appeared on such national media as NBC, NPR, and PBS. He lives in Chicago.
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