A big-hearted but somewhat soft-headed history of the death of a black neighborhood in Virginia that challenges urban planners to redesign their renewal programs--and to accept the fact that good and evil are very real. Patience Gromes, an elderly woman, is an exemplary vestige of a time when the community had faith that virtue would be rewarded, that the law protected them, and that a house meant security. The author, a free-lance writer in Seattle, worked for VISTA as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. He guided the poor through the shoals of bureaucracy in the decrepit urban community of Fulton, a neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia. At that time, 1971, he was mired in the day-to-day problems of the people as they faced the very mixed blessing of federally funded urban renewal. In retrospect, he has developed a broad idea about the process of urban renewal: that moral relativism doomed it to failure. It is an elegantly simple idea--that the quality and pattern of black lives are the prime instruments for the advancement and recognition of black culture. But is it deceptive? Davis is disdainful of blacks who see the American class system as oppressive. Whether it is or isn't, one shouldn't be surprised that blacks are acutely aware of such economic inequity. Even more importantly, Davis offers little policy for the future, and one wonders what exactly his new morality will demand in practice. A jeremiad that calls for social planning infused with certain morality, this book is long on emotion and short on argument.