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Our Towns, James and Deborah Fallows


Husband and wife writers traveled the country by single-engine prop plane for five years documenting the towns and experiences. They traveled to towns looking for positive energy with signs of rebound of some kind or shift… never quite sure what they’d find when they landed. By the end of their journey, they felt sure of something they had suspected at the beginning.. an important part of the face of modern America has slipped from the overall public view, in a way that makes a big and destructive difference in our country’s public and economic life. Most parts of the places they visited (mid-size cities to small towns) had been doing better than most Americans realize. People are inclined to view any local problems as symptoms of wider disasters and dismiss local successes as fortunate anomalies. They feel angrier about the county’s challenges than they should and more fatalistic about the prospects of dealing with them. Positive attitude, civic responsibility, and local patriotism matter only so much when marching against the largest forces of geography, of demographics of economic change.