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The Bulldozer in the Countryside: Surburban Sprawl and the Rise of American Environmentalism

Series: Studies in Environment and History

By: Adam Rome(Author)

320 pages, illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Jun 2001 | #120030 | ISBN: 0521804906
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £21.99 $29/€25 approx
Hardback | Jun 2001 | #120029 | ISBN: 0521800595
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £71.99 $94/€82 approx

About this book

The concern today about suburban sprawl is not new. In the decades after World War II, the spread of tract-house construction changed the nature of millions of acres of land, and a variety of Americans began to protest against the environmental costs of suburban development. By the mid-1960s, indeed, many of the critics were attempting to institutionalize an urban land ethic. The Bulldozer in the Countryside is the first scholarly work to analyze the successes and failures of the varied efforts to address the environmental consequences of suburban growth from 1945 to 1970. For scholars and students of American history, The Bulldozer in the Countryside offers a compelling new insight into two of the great stories of modern times – the mass migration to the suburbs and the rise of the environmental movement. The Bulldozer in the Countryside also offers a valuable historical perspective for participants in contemporary debates about the alternatives to sprawl.

"The Bulldozer in the Countryside is solid environmental history, telling a remarkably broad story of political economy, culture, and physical environments on a national scale [...] Rome writes gracefully, with a sense of drama that makes the book hard to put down."
- Journal of American History

"Serving as an essential corrective to the belief that environmentalism has only lately come around to confronting the ecological consequences of urban land use, Adam Rome's The Bulldozer in the Countryside: Suburban Sprawl and the Rise of American Environmentalism uncovers a largely forgotten history of political controversy surrounding the explosive growth of suburbia in the decades following World War II [...] The Bulldozer in the Countryside is important reading, which shows conclusively that the urban environmental agenda has a longer and deeper history than even its most fervent advocates may have realized."
- Urban Ecology

"This book is a valuable resource for those interested in urban, growth management and environmental policy, especially those involved in dealing with the sprawl-related issues of today."
- Ecoscience

"Too often, we forget that the history of environmentalism has as much to do with cities and suburbs – the places where most people now live – as it does with the rural or wild landscapes where many efforts to protect non-human nature have focused. In this important book, Adam Rome explores the complex processes by which rural areas were converted to suburban tract housing in the decades following World War II – transforming not just the American landscape, but American politics as well. It is a story with profound implications for the environmental challenges we now face."
- William Cronon, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Rome's is an important tale, clearly told and well-argued [...] this is a significant contribution both to the history of suburban homebuilding and to the history of environmentalism. It is also worthy of consideration as a course text [...] "
- Theology and Culture

"In this brilliant and original book, Adam Rome proposes both a new significance for postwar American suburbia and a new interpretation of postwar American environmentalism. Arguing that the uncontrolled spread of tracthouse suburbia was a driving force behind a new environmental consciousness, [...] Rome offers a profound insight into the development of an American land ethic."
- Robert Fishman, Taubman College of Architecture and Planning University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

"His book has the virtues and limits of good histories. It is smoothly written and thoroughly documented [...] a good solid story about an interesting phase in American history. Whether you lived through it or study it or both, you will learn much."
- American Journal of Sociology

"Romes's book provides an excellent outline of the emerging postwar conflict over the surburban environment [...] deserves the attention of all planners and students of surburbia. He provides a fine account of a major story in American metropolitan development."
- APA Journal

"Rome's book is insightful and informative [...] the book will be of interest both to scholars seeking to udnerstand the formation of modern environmentalism, and to concerned citizens seeking to place restraints on the continuing process of suburbanization."
- American Historical Review, Michael F. Logan



1. Levitt's progress: the rise of the suburban-industrial complex
2. From the solar house to the all-electric home: the postwar debates over heating and cooling
3. Septic-tank suburbia: the problem of waste disposal at the metropolitan fringe
4. Open space: the first protests against the bulldozed landscape
5. Where not to build: the campaigns to protect wetlands, hillsides, and floodplains
6. Water, soil, and wildlife: the federal critiques of tract-house development
7. Toward a land ethic: the quiet revolution in land-use regulation


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