SUNBELT CITIES: Politics and Growth Since World War II by Richard M. & Bradley R. Rice--Eds. Bernard

SUNBELT CITIES: Politics and Growth Since World War II

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Economic growth and political change in twelve Sunbelt cities, assessed by local academics (for the most part)--with an excellent introductory examination of the Sunbelt phenomenon, by the editors (historians at Marquette and at Clayton Junior College, Morrow, GA, respectively). Bernard and Rice trace the origin of the Sunbelt concept; discuss the difficulty of defining the area (""what does emerge is a sort of consensual Sunbelt that generally follows the 37th parallel. . .""); and note four common growth factors--WW II defense spending, ""other federal outlays, a favorable business climate, and an attractive quality of life."" Specific mention is made of the interstate highway system and urban redevelopment, among federal programs; and of local government latitude (including an anti-union bias), combined with a ""growth ethic,"" among the business attractants. The political decline of go-go economic elites is attributed to suburban fragmentation (more successfully resisted, however, than in the Northeast) and to minority and neighborhood politics. To a degree, the profiles of the twelve cities--Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, Tampa, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego--follow a set pattern; thus, each is at least minimally informative. Otherwise, they differ considerably: in vitality and acuity, from the bland account of Miami, the kneehole-view of Tampa, the opinionizing on Albuquerque, the pedestrian entries on Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Phoenix (the latter particularly superficial), to the dash and sweep and multifaceted detailing of David Clark's Los Angeles. The coverage of Atlanta, by editor Rice, and New Orleans, by Arnold R. Hirsch, combines crisp distinctions and effective personalizing. (Hirsch is particularly good on activist mayors Morrison, Landrieu, and Morial.) Though not lively, editor Bernard's wrap-up of Oklahoma City and David Johnson's of San Antonio are first-rate chronicles of the workings of business leadership--and, in the latter instance, its strategic retrenchment under ethnic pressure. The antiurban complexion of San Diego is well portrayed by Anthony Corso. Omens for the future: blacks losing ground everywhere; environmental problems unresolved. At the least: utilitarian summaries-cum-bibliographies. For students of growth politics and other subtopics, a reliable overview.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1983
Publisher: Univ. of Texas Press