Review of Our Towns

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  • Concrete Examples
  • Insider's Take
  • Inspiring


Journalist James Fallows and linguistics expert Deborah Fallows tell a patchwork story of place. They flew 100,000 miles in the course of four years, crisscrossing the United States to visit 31 cities several times each. Instead of flying over, they flew in to report in compelling detail on those cities’ economic and civic health and their future prospects. After much research, they report that news of middle America’s demise is greatly exaggerated. The two Fallows, husband and wife, find that cities that differ in history, geography and opportunity are akin in aspirations and in many economic development strategies. Like the best travelogues, this work makes you want to visit places you never dreamed of exploring.


About the Authors

A reporter for The Atlantic for more than 35 years, James Fallows has written 11 books. Deborah Fallows, a linguistics expert, has written two books.


Good Bones

James and Deborah Fallows report that across the United States, successful cities are using their existing resources to spur economic growth. Eastport, Maine, for example, has the deepest harbor on the Eastern seaboard. Melting arctic ice means it may one day offer the quickest sea route to China, Japan and Korea. The tidal currents in the Bay of Fundy made Eastport an ideal location for the Ocean Renewable Power Company to test its generation of hydrokinetic electricity, which supplies Maine’s power grid.  

The Fallows provide historical context by drawing a line from the public investments of a previous age to today’s new opportunities and progress. Citibank found the World War II-era military infrastructure of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, attractive in the 1990s. Sioux Falls offers lower operating costs than other, more dense areas. Residents love its “big small town” feel. 

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