... kudos to Harvard professor Lizabeth Cohen for exhuming the cantankerous, ambitious and idealistic Logue in her charming and successful biography-cum-urban affairs history ... Ms. Cohen ennobles his life story, telling it as an impassioned crusade for things that sound old-fashioned now but were and are worth caring about: racial and socioeconomic integration of neighborhoods; respectable public housing for lower-income Americans; and social services and decent schooling for all ... Ms. Cohen is respectful but not worshipful toward the 'complicated character' who is her protagonist...But she mentions these shortcomings only when they contribute to her story.
[Cohen] has not only taken the measure of a complicated man, but also provided an incisive treatment of the entire urban-planning world in America in the last half of the 20th century ... a more enlightening book than has appeared on this topic in quite some time.
... [an] excellent study of postwar urban planning ... Cohen makes a compelling case that a renewed faith in the public sector and the active participation of the federal government in rebuilding urban infrastructure and public housing are essential for any progress today, and she argues that Logue’s work demonstrates the potential of this approach as well as some of its successes, however partial. Yet at the same time, Saving America’s Cities is, purposefully or not, a study in urban liberalism’s failings and of the profound pressures that always constrained and shaped its aspirations and accomplishments ... With deep archival research and a narrative sweep that fixes her subject in the arc of midcentury US history, Cohen sketches Logue vividly, illuminating his forcefulness, his passion, his masculine confidence. She also provides a painful account of what he and so many liberals of his generation were up against. The contrast between these two aspects of her story—Logue’s certitude crashing into the limits of what he was able to accomplish—at times makes Saving America’s Cities read a bit like a claustrophobic horror story. Logue...comes to seem like the King Lear of urban planning, following a dimming star of liberalism that was so clearly inadequate to its time.