James Howard Kunstler

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James Howard "Jim" Kunstler (born 1948) is an American author, public speaker, and social critic.

Kunstler has been an outspoken critic of suburbia, urban development trends throughout the US, and the "American Way of Life", and has been a leading proponent of the New Urbanism movement. He has summed up his attitude towards the current American landscape by describing it as:

The tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work. A land full of places that are not worth caring about will soon be a nation and a way of life that is not worth defending.

He has also written that

(the) physical arrangement of life in our nation, in particular suburban sprawl, (is) the most destructive development pattern the world has ever seen, and perhaps the greatest misallocation of resources the world has ever known.

Kunstler has authored several influential books on the subject of urban design and planning including The Geography of Nowhere, Home From Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, and The Long Emergency. He has also authored several novels.

James Howard Kunstler was born in New York City. Spending summers at a boys camp in New Hampsire, Kunstler became acquinted with the small town ethos that would later permeate many of his works. He graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport. After college, he worked as a reporter and feature writer for a number of newspapers, and finally as a staff writer for Rolling Stone. In 1975, he began writing books and lecturing full-time. He lives in Saratoga Springs, New York and was formerly married to the children's author Jennifer Armstrong.

More recently, he has written about the effects that he predicts the coming oil peak will have on society, and as such he appears in the documentary film The End of Suburbia (2004). He has also written a book 'The Long Emergency' (2005) in which he argues that declining oil production will force Americans to live in localised communities.

Reactions to Kunstler

The enormously popular The Geography of Nowhere and Home from Nowhere are commonly cited by graduate students in planning as inspirational texts. While Kunstler's speeches and writings are often enormously compelling due to his mastery of narrative, his rhetorical style is notoriously short on subtlety, and is often profane: "clusterfuck" and "bitchslap upside the head" are favorite terms of his, appearing at a rate of approximately once a page in his recent writings. In interviews and his blog, Kunstler has defended his choice of language, arguing that the gravity of the problems he addresses requires profane language to shock listeners and readers into awareness. He has also accused academics and others of allowing political correctness to overwhelm honest expression.

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