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Download The Death and Life of Great American Cities: 50th Anniversary Edition Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Death and Life of Great American Cities: 50th Anniversary Edition Audiobook, by Jane Jacobs Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (4,051 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jane Jacobs Narrator: Donna Rawlins Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2011 ISBN: 9780307969651
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Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of its initial publication, this special edition of Jane Jacobs’s masterpiece, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, features a new Introduction by Jason Epstein, the book’s original editor, who provides an intimate perspective on Jacobs herself and unique insights into the creation and lasting influence of this classic. 

The Death and Life of Great American Cities was described by The New York Times as “perhaps the most influential single work in the history of town planning. . . . [It] can also be seen in a much larger context. It is first of all a work of literature; the descriptions of street life as a kind of ballet and the bitingly satiric account of traditional planning theory can still be read for pleasure even by those who long ago absorbed and appropriated the book’s arguments.” Jane Jacobs, an editor and writer on architecture in New York City in the early sixties, argued that urban diversity and vitality were being destroyed by powerful architects and city planners. Rigorous, sane, and delightfully epigrammatic, Jane Jacobs’s tour de force is a blueprint for the humanistic management of cities. It remains sensible, knowledgeable, readable, and indispensable.

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Quotes & Awards

  • The most refreshing, provacative, stimulating and exciting study of this [great problem] which I have seen. It fairly crackles with bright honesty and common sense. Harrison Salisbury, The New York Times"One of the most remarkable books ever written about the city... a primary work. The research apparatus is not pretentious—it is the eye and the heart—but it has given us a magnificent study of what gives life and spirit to the city.

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 kathryn | 2/8/2014

    " Still working on it. Currently not so stoked on her generalist negative view of parks, but understand the dilemma! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nathan Schneider | 2/7/2014

    " It brought New York city to life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 antonia vitale | 2/3/2014

    " this is an amazing book. it is especially great is you either live in NY or have an interest in NY. written 40 years ago, Jane Jacobs' thoughts are still just as applicable today as they were when she published them. it is at times a heavy read, but very informative and worth the effort. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 S | 2/3/2014

    " outside intellectual + citizen activist + urban planning + influence = must read. May be a bit dated, but she has insights that I guarantee you, some of which, you have never thought of (like the importance of trucks for cities.) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott | 1/10/2014

    " The seminal book on good urban planning. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caren | 1/4/2014

    " I was inspired to read this book after watching the PBS special on New York and learning about the good and the bad of Robert Moses. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Demetria | 12/28/2013

    " Every self-respecting urban planning geek must read this. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gregory's Lament | 12/20/2013

    " Send a copy of this book to your mayor. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 M | 12/18/2013

    " An easy, and incredibly interesting read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ray | 12/18/2013

    " This was a good book that everyone who has an opinion on how cities should be developed should read before they form their opinion. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carl | 12/15/2013

    " Jane Jacobs insights opposing the zeitgeist of city building we remarkable and remain so to this day. Only today her concepts of sidewalks and streetlife as central to a community are seen as commonplace. The book is neat, but dry like the textbook it is. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Megan | 10/30/2013

    " no book has ever had a more profound effect on my thought processes or life direction. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 10/8/2013

    " Read this for a class during a few weeks study on Robert Moses, and this book completed the conversation really well. Interesting read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jamie | 9/4/2013

    " This will probably be on my currently reading shelf forever...I think it's important, but only in about 10 page increments. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 7/10/2013

    " Mayor Rawlings-Blake, could you please read this book? Your vision to improve Baltimore could not be more profoundly wrong. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brian | 2/3/2013

    " Honestly couldn't get around to finishing it. I liked what I read, but couldn't see myself slogging through the nearly 500 pages of urban planning wonkery, as much as I would have liked to do so. It just didn't grip me enough to move me along. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sharon | 11/19/2012

    " Lots of solid ideas in a really wordy and redundant style. Still, I think I'll be re-reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Suzanne | 1/6/2012

    " i'm re-reading this classic and love the chapters on sidewalks and parks! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kat Lynch | 12/22/2011

    " I agree with most of what she's saying; but reading this so many years later, it all sounds like conventional wisdom. Also, way too NYC-focused. There are other cities on the planet, I think. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 AmandaHeather | 10/3/2011

    " One of the few nonfiction books I'll read over and over- Jacob's insights into urbanism are so ahead of her time and applicable today and into the future. Everyone should read this book! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dee | 9/1/2011

    " This book is a classic work in urban sociology. Jacobs identified many of the things that created our cities of fear, isolation, and challenge. If you care about the places where many live, this is a great book to enjoy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beth | 8/30/2011

    " Read for class, wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be. It was very insightful and got me thinking about things I never really considered or paid attention to before. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alex | 8/7/2011

    " This book changed how I think about cities, and the people living in them. I consider it a required read, for any city dweller, and for anyone planning to make a home somewhere, for the long-term. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mallory | 8/1/2011

    " I wonder what Jane Jacobs would think of the efficacy of "eyes on the streets" in present-day Central City New Orleans. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Angela | 7/20/2011

    " You will never look at sidewalks again. A game changer on urban planning, and how city designs can suffocate or foster communities. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Derek | 7/17/2011

    " I love this book, both for its insights about cities in general and for its applicability to my own urban life in Ann Arbor. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeramey | 7/6/2011

    " The guiding light for my views on why cities are magic. Everything in the book isn't perfect, but if you're looking to learn about urbanism, this is absolutely where you start. "

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About the Narrator

Donna Rawlins has voiced countless projects, from commercial campaigns as the voice of United Airlines, Macy’s, AVIVA, and Suzuki, to anime, as the character BT on .hack//Sign, as well as myriad storytelling narratives. Also a singer-songwriter, her television credits include The Shield, Dawson’s Creek, The Unit, and the film Mr. Woodcock. She is based in Los Angeles.