The Thumbnail Book Reviews

by John Q McDonald --- 17 March 2004

A New Deal for New York

by Mike Wallace

Almost before the end of that horrible day, September 11, 2001, people within New York City and across the country, were devising plans for its physical and economic recovery. This book, written in the year following the terrorist attack, compiles economic and architectural ideas that provoke, hopefully, innovative thinking of how to transform the future of the city and its society. At 93 pages, it belongs in that small genre of small books that has flourished in the past few years, and which almost invariably represents one person's often cranky view of what should happen next.

Mike Wallace, co-author of the brilliant and Pulitzer Prize-winning Gotham, is an insightful writer, but he veers into polemic in his vision for a new New Deal for New York. After summarizing some of the basic ideas that have arisen in the aftermath of September 11, he goes on to propose primarily economic plans for saving his beloved city. Most rely upon a vision like FDR's Depression-era New Deal, in which the responsibilities of government and taxation include reforming social structure and supporting the downtrodden. One could not implement all of what Wallace suggests here without provoking a new Boston Tea Party. However, much of what he suggests has solid historical precedent and evokes a compassionate vision of a Social Democratic society across the country. Already, many of these ideas are obsolete as New York's reconstruction moves forward at a record pace. Many of Wallace's proposals, however, are always good ideas. The country could do worse than to adopt some of what the author puts forth. Is anybody listening?

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Also by Wallace: [Gotham]

[Other Urban Studies and Architecture]