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Downsizing the U.S.A. /
Thomas H. Naylor and William H. Willimon.
Grand Rapids, Mich. : W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., c1997.
v, 289 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
0802843301 (paper : alk. paper)
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added author
Grand Rapids, Mich. : W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., c1997.
0802843301 (paper : alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1997-06-09:
Legions of Americans, stalled in traffic jams or holding for the next available customer representative on the telephone, will agree with this book's central thesis: big is bad. The coauthors of The Search for Meaning, an economist and a theologian, espouse "an abiding trust in the local, the specific, and the small as opposed to the universal, the general, and the large." The point is hardly original. Nineteenth-century sociologists analyzed the functions and problems of bureaucracy, and wrote nostalgically about the small, intimate primary group in an increasingly secondary group society. Here the bigness problem is applied to our major social institutions‘the economy, the city, the educational system, religion and the state‘with inexact plans for downsizing each. Secession of states from the union and cities from states, is likewise not original as a solution, as the tragedy of the Civil War illustrates. In the 1960s the hippies advocated dropping out and forming tribes, a similar if less-developed idea for downsizing. Boxed quotes to support the theme are so numerous they become almost as important as the writing. Covering 2000 years in equally varying contexts, these asides suggest erudition but often mean nothing, like Robert Burns' "The best laid plans of mice and men...," offered without explanation, or, like Robert Frost's "Good fences make good neighbors" used conversely to Frost's point about mindless tradition. The book is like going back to college, listening to compelling liberal professors, then realizing back in the dorm that the real world throws up hurdles that the academics never addressed. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 1997-06-15:
Duke University professors Naylor (emeritus, economics) and Willimon (Christian ministry) here prescribe smallness in everything, from business to the military to healthcare to education, then finally to the United States itself. Despite extensive quoting from their previous work (e.g., The Search for Meaning, LJ 2/1/94), they offer little evidence that bigness is bad or how smaller entities are better; instead, they argue from anecdote and assume that readers will agree with such premises as "Urban crime is out of control because our cities are too large." The authors build up to the conclusion that the United States should allow secession of individual states. Provocative but unconvincing.‘A.J. Sobczak, formerly with California State Univ., Northridge (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This item was reviewed in:
Booklist, June 1997
Library Journal, June 1997
Publishers Weekly, June 1997
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Bowker Data Service Summary
In this survey of American society and American business, the authors take an unabashed stance against the belief that 'bigger is better' and warn that size and technological complexity are not risk free.
Unpaid Annotation
Naylor and William argue that our government, our cities, our corporations, our schools, our churches, our military, and our social welfare system are all too big, too powerful, too intrusive, too insular, and too unresponsive to the needs of individual citizens and small local communities. They propose specific strategies for decentralizing and downsizing virtually every major institution in America, including America itself. The authors audaciously call for the peaceful dissolution of the United States through secession and provide a thoughtful game plan for achieving this controversial objective.
Table of Contents
In the Beginningp. 1
The State of the Unionp. 9
The Meltdown of Corporate Americap. 28
Urban America: Modern-Day Tower of Babelp. 48
Rural America: Our Last Hopep. 76
Digitizing America's Schoolkidsp. 94
The Crisis in Higher Education: Metaphor for Americap. 122
Give Me That Old-Time Religionp. 137
Our Moribund Welfare Statep. 155
Mighty Morphin Superpowersp. 182
Our States: Toothless Paper Tigersp. 203
Dissolution, Not Devolutionp. 237
Empowering the Powerlessp. 259
Index of Namesp. 285
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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