In James Howard Kunstler’s view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about.
James Howard Kunstler calls suburban sprawl “the greatest misallocation of resources the world has ever known.” His arguments bring a new lens to urban development, drawing clear connections between physical spaces and cultural vitality.
Geography of Nowhere, published in 1993, presented a grim vision of America in decline — a nation of cookie-cutter strip malls, vacuous city centers, and dead spaces wrought by what Kunstler calls the ethos of Happy Motoring: our society-wide dependence on the automobile.
The Long Emergency (2005) takes a hard look at energy dependency, arguing that the end of the fossil fuels era will force a return to smaller-scale, agrarian-focused communities and an overhaul of many of the most prominent and destructive features of postwar society.
His confrontational approach and propensity for doomsday scenarios make Kunstler a lightning rod for controversy and critics. But his magnificent rants are underscored with logic and his books are widely read, particularly by architectural critics and urban planners.