Book Review: Better Together: Restoring the American Community

Robert Putnam's follow-up to "Bowling Alone" lacks the statistical evidence featured in his earlier work.
October 18, 2003, 7am PDT | David Gest
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"[Putnam’s] new book…written with Lewis Feldstein, is kind of a follow-up to ['Bowling Alone'], in which a supposed 'rebirth' of civic participation is outlined in mind-numbingly wonky detail. The authors pick 12 examples of community-building initiatives across the country, from branch libraries in Chicago to community councils in Portland, OR, to the 'virtual' community of Craigslist, but fail to really bring any of these topics to life. They plod through interviews and case studies showing how a group of 'regular folks' saw a problem and came together to solve it... Putnam and Feldstein seem to think that there’s a participatory movement afoot in the country, but since they can’t support their thesis with any statistical evidence, they content themselves with falling back on a series of intermittently interesting anecdotes as evidence to support the sunny picture they want to put forth." [Editor's note: this is the second of two book reviews on the page.]

Thanks to David Gest

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Published on Friday, October 14, 2005 in New York Press
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