An intellectually and visually stimulating guide to the kind of development that restores, rather than paves over, America’s...


Good planning and rehabbing can give old buildings and cities new leases on life, argues this savvy manifesto on urban redevelopment.

Cort, a California real estate developer, specializes in buying distressed, decrepit old houses and buildings in bad parts of town, remodeling them with modern amenities while preserving their historic ambiance, and then renting or selling them for a profit. The result, he argues, is a thriving business model that also helps jump-start residential and commercial revitalization in blighted neighborhoods. He spotlights a number of his projects in the struggling city of Stockton, California, and the coastal town of Pacific Grove, which run the gamut: spruced-up Victorians, a renovated apartment building with ground-floor businesses that create an “urban village,” an abandoned factory that becomes a social services center, a derelict office building turned into a law library, an initiative to get municipal electricity from solar panels, etc. The subject of real estate development can be dry, but Cort manages to make his accounts of these projects both lucid and interesting as he explains aspects of creative financing for properties that lenders often see as bad investments or tax and subsidy concerns. Renovating to building code can be challenging, he says, though good tenants will enhance a building’s value; there’s also the consideration of selecting public art to be on display within the building. Along the way, Cort explains his urbanist and preservationist philosophies of redevelopment, which owe much to Jane Jacobs and James Howard Kunstler; he decries the sprawl that sucks businesses and tax base away from downtowns to the exurbs, and he extols the sustainability, liveliness and community values of dense, mixed-use inner-city districts. (The book’s many color photos of his projects show their considerable charm to good advantage.) Brimming with ideas and expert insights, Cort’s introduction to the subject of preservationist development will appeal to real estate professionals, planners, activists and anyone who cherishes neglected architectural treasures.

An intellectually and visually stimulating guide to the kind of development that restores, rather than paves over, America’s civic tradition.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1935530015

Page Count: 186

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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