Anderson’s book is an artful mixture of ethnography, narrative history, in-depth interviews and legal scholarship. Using these tools, she shows us what the absence of government looks like on the ground ... advocates for complex solutions that require citizen engagement, in the hope that trusting relationships, built over time, will bring disaffected people back to active civic life ... Although Anderson tells stories of urban rebirth, her book does not conclude with any sense of a happy ending because she is describing human processes, not algorithms.
The Fight to Save the Town presents four case studies chosen for their collective ability to demonstrate the ways in which cities emerge from chronic poverty...[Anderson] highlights violence reduction in Stockton; the support of basic services in a decidedly anti-government Josephine County, Ore.; improving job access and security in Lawrence, Mass.; and stabilizing low-income housing in Detroit after a wave of foreclosures and housing loss...Anderson conducted more than 250 interviews to elucidate the struggles people are facing, and from these conversations she became more and more confident that it is those very people who know best how to solve them...But not on their own...She knows not to celebrate individual victories too much and continues to stress the importance of people and governments working together on solutions, independently or in opposition...So much of government, regardless of federal, state or local, feels intractable...Anderson’s book won’t change the mind of anti-government folks (nor does it try to)...But it is a welcome reminder of what government can accomplish if given the chance.
Stanford law professor Anderson debuts with a hard-hitting yet hopeful look at how impoverished communities across the U.S. are fighting for their survival,,.Throughout, Anderson contextualizes her detailed demographic and economic data with vivid portraits of local families and activists. The result is an astute and powerful vision for improving America.