"In my quest to understand the life, work and impact of Jane Jacobs, I have read almost every book, by or about Jane. One book that I had put off reading was Genius of Common Sense: Jane Jacobs and the Story of The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Glenna Lang and Marjory Wunsch. It wasn’t a priority for me, as the book is targeted to young reader and I thought it would be too basic given my knowledge of Jane and her writings.
Genius of Common Sense is a must read for anybody interested in the life and work of Jane Jacobs. While indeed meant for young adults, the clear and concise writing provides a great introduction to the queen of urbanism. It’s a quick and easy—but nonetheless compelling—read.
The book takes you on a journey from Jane’s earliest days in Scranton, through her early days in New York to her battles with Robert Moses and the publication of Death and Life, and ultimately to her move to Toronto. It also talks about the people and instances that influenced her and her thinking. It is packed with details often overlooked in more academic texts, including her unruliness in grade school and her fascination with manhole covers.
The book includes excellent illustrations by the authors and rarely seen photographs of Jane and her family. It concludes with excellent appendices, including a bibliography, a chronology of Jane’s live and detailed chapter notes.Genius of Common Sense was written to bring alive the life of Jane Jacobs for any teenager wondering how s/he can make a difference in the world. It surpasses this goal and will inspire people of all ages to get involved in their community."