Dark Age Ahead

Dark Age Ahead

Book - 2004
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A dark age is a culture's dead end. In North America, for example, we live in a virtual graveyard of lost and destroyed aboriginal cultures. In this powerful and provocative book, renowned author Jane Jacobs argues convincingly that we face the coming of our own dark age. Throughout history, there have been many more dark ages than the one that occurred between the fall of the Roman Empire and the dawn of the Renaissance. Ten thousand years ago, our ancestors went from hunter-gatherers to farmers and, along the way, lost almost all memory of what existed before. Now we stand at another monumental crossroads, as agrarianism gives way to a technology-based future. How do we make this shift without losing the culture we hold dear--and without falling behind other nations that successfully master the transition? First we must concede that things are awry. Jacobs identifies five central pillars of our society that show serious signs of decay: community and family; higher education; science and technology; governmental representation; and self-regulation of the learned professions. These are the elements we depend on to stand firm--but Jacobs maintains that they are in the process of becoming irrelevant. If that happens, we will no longer recognize ourselves. The good news is that the downward movement can be reversed. Japan avoided cultural defeat by retaining a strong hold on history and preservation during war, besiegement, and occupation. Ireland nearly lost all native language during the devastations of famine and colonialism, but managed to renew its culture through the steadfast determination of its citizens. Jacobs assures us that the same can happen here--if only we recognize the signs of decline in time. Dark Age Ahead is not only the crowning achievement of Jane Jacobs's career, but one of the most important works of our time. It is a warning that, if heeded, could save our very way of life.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2004
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400062324
Characteristics: 241 p. ; 22 cm

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Nov 13, 2017

Although published 17 years ago, this book eerily describes cultural events that are happening in North America today. From loss of affordable housing and minimum wage employment to science as "fake news" to making public services "cost-effective" or revenue generators, Jacobs ties all these symptoms to great civilizations that no longer exist. For those Americans currently enamored by the idea of a Canada as utopia, Jacobs uses many examples and case studies that show both the U.S. and Canada are on a parallel path. Both a historical review and a path out of the morass, this work is "both a gloomy and a hopeful book."

Sep 30, 2017

Prescient. I wish more people had read it, years ago.

May 09, 2017

Uneven, more rants than logic here. Reads like a series of linked opinion editorials.

Apr 14, 2017

I just went back to re-read this book, ten years on, to get a re-assessment of its worth and validity in the light of recent events. Sad to say, apart from having correctly predicted the US housing crash, it doesn't hold up very well. Jacobs betrays her own prejudices and socio-economic bias, presenting her opinions as facts, the very sin she decries in those who oppose her. I suppose she meant well but in several places she comes across as ill-informed and willfully blind to facts that would weaken her argument.
Case in point is her ludicrous assertion that closing a roadway makes traffic "disappear"! When I drove to work every day in Toronto for 17 years and found my regular route closed or congested, I did what everyone else did: I took another route. By her admission, she never drove or owned a car. How could she possibly know what she was talking about? At the other end of the urban-rural spectrum, she states on pg. 162 that former "bread baskets" have become redundant, indicating that we have a surplus of arable farmland -- that despite a world population that has more than doubled in just the past few years. She seemed to be unaware that vast areas of farmland in areas such as the Great Plains, North Africa and Australia are becoming much less productive due to widespread and chronic drought. Gaffes such as that, along with many others destroy her credibility, which is unfortunate because we need people with the courage (and the academic rigor to support it) to challenge today's leaders and help us find real solutions to real issues. This book doesn't cut it.

Jan 22, 2013

Sadly, I believe this may have been Ms. Jacobs final book before her passage. A most clever and brilliant little book (quite short) where she most adeptly and sneakily convinces one of all those pesky little situations really were criminal conspiracies after all, and there actually was collusion among those corporate giants. Recently, on yet another of NPR's propaganda shows (and that's about the only American media I occassionally listen to, but never again), they claimed all this stuff, about General Motors, Firestone, and Sun Oil (Sunococ) and a conspiracy to replace trolleys with their buses, run on their gasoline, using their tires, was all so much "conspiracy theory" nonsense (they must have mentioned their phrase, "conspiracy theory" several dozen times. [I was actually in attendance at those congressional committee hearings in 1975, when retired executives from those three corporations testified, under oath, that they did indeed conspire to do such perfidious activities!] Read Ms. Jacobs' book, please. (Although 99% perfect, she did make one error, whereby she ignores her own advice to "never assume" she unfortunately assumed that the US foreign aid program was really meant to do what its mission state claims --- if only she had read Nomi Prins' "Other People's Money" and Nicholas Shaxson's "Treasure Islands" !!!) Given the state of mind of the average American today, we really have already reached that "dark age" which Ms. Jacobs pondered - - people so ignorant as to be clueless as to how bereft of the most basic knowledge they actually are!

Mar 24, 2011

I reference this all the time. insightful.

cdotha Dec 09, 2010

A great book that just touches the surface of the problems facing society in the coming age. A must read for anyone who has ever wondered what happened to community and how we can begin to fix it, Jacobs manages to create something that is at once both thoroughly digestible and highly informative.


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