• Strong Towns

  • A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity
  • By: Charles L. Marohn Jr.
  • Narrated by: Matthew Boston
  • Length: 7 hrs and 26 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (290 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Build American Prosperity is a book of forward-thinking ideas that breaks with modern wisdom to present a new vision of urban development in the United States. Presenting the foundational ideas of the Strong Towns movement he cofounded, Charles Marohn explains why cities of all sizes continue to struggle to meet their basic needs, and reveals the new paradigm that can solve this longstanding problem. 

You'll learn why inducing growth and development has been the conventional response to urban financial struggles - and why it just doesn't work. New development and high-risk investing don't generate enough wealth to support itself, and cities continue to struggle. Listen to this book to find out how cities large and small can focus on bottom-up investments to minimize risk and maximize their ability to strengthen the community financially and improve citizens' quality of life. 

Strong Towns acknowledges that there is a problem with the American approach to growth and shows community leaders a new way forward. The Strong Towns response is a revolution in how we assemble the places we live.

©2019 Charles L. Marohn, Jr. (P)2019 Kalorama

What listeners say about Strong Towns

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Elected Officials Must Read

I am a Civil Engineer, have been a City Engineer, and Director of Infrastructure Planning. Everything laid out in this book I have witnessed and fought. Infrastructure does not get paid for by expanding it. This is a must understand issue for the public. Great read and a breath of fresh air to see the issues so clearly laid out.

6 people found this helpful

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Where are the peer-reviewed sources and studies?

I'm a city planning commissioner and have been introduced to many of the Strong Town ideas through my trainings. I agree wholeheartedly with the call for cities to be self-sufficient and to be wary of expansion without plans for maintenance. However, I have MANY problems with the way Marohn presented his argument. His argument totally dismissed or ignored any valid counterarguments. He glorified the development of the past without acknowledging the many socioeconomic or social issues it created. He talked about all cities as money pits with no hope--his attitude dismissed any possibility of a middle ground or compromise. He talked frequently about how he crunched some numbers and came up with important takeaways without sharing those numbers or their validity. When I listened to the barbell chapter, I was shocked at how misleading Marohn's investing advice/comparison was. All the peer-reviewed research says that the barbell approach is way worse for the common investor than index funds. After that chapter, I don't know what I can and can't trust. Until Marohn includes some peer-reviewed sources to back his beliefs and includes a fair, balanced argument, I can't fully buy into his philosophy.

5 people found this helpful

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Loosely Researched

This is pretty much a 7 hour diatribe. There was little to no research, too much personal emotion and nowhere near enough background about towns. This wouldn't even count as philosophy. Sophistry, maybe?

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Eye opening

This book give eye opening details about the thing we all know is killing our cities, planned suburbs. In my city we have lots of neighborhoods with gates. I had a suspicion these communities within our city were detrimental to our city as a whole but Marohn puts a price tag on those developments. I’m just a teacher but this book should be a must read for anyone in city government.

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Challenge your thinking!

This text flies in the face of everything we think we know about business as usual. When confronted with undeniable truths, you have to challenge yourself to consider a different possibility. That's what this book did for me.

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great book

This book change the way I look at cities and city planning I wish our read this book earlier I wish our read this book earlier In my life

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Useful, Full of Good Ideas and Case Studies

Useful, Full of Good Ideas and Case Studies
I loved this book and would recommend it.It is dense so often I would rewind to listen to a key portion again. Would recommend this book to any thought leader in economic and urban development across the country. Thought provoking and made me think of the role entrepreneurs can play in the growth or stagnation of a city.

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great, but has an error in audio.

"Construction costs for big boxes are generally less than $50 per square foot" is in the audible reading as "$50000 per square foot"

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Unlistanable

Someone forgot to edit out the narrator breathing, so this is straight up unlistenable. The guy, whose voice is also not very nice to listen to, is gasping for breath every three seconds. Absolutely disgusting

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oversimplified conclusions and assumptions

I couldn't finish. I tried, but the more I listen the worse it got. The premise is cities should be profit focused centers and to achieve this is pure social Darwinism. He repeats often that people will struggle to achieve change and not everyone will have prosperity. It is not clear who "those people" are, but it clearly won't be the author. He glossed over the feminist movement as a right to work movement that diluted the labor pool and lead to lower wages for everyone. His conclusions come from carefully selected items from the buffet of history and theory. These conveniently make a loose network for broad, exaggerated assumptions. The result is glossy conclusions and obviously simple answers. If we only go beyond the,"propaganda math" we would see the truth he found. We would see the conspiracy behind infrastructure, the Ponzi scheme of city growth, the lies from the Federal government. I'd claim it as conspiracy theory level nonsense, but usually conspiracy theories have more actual data. These are all his own crafted assumptions from his own opinions. He mentions he read and studied but in passing. It is as if the mention of reading counts as the actual citation. If all history was like a sushi restaurant, events like the plates circling us on conveyor belts, he picked out all the eel dishes and claimed that was the whole of it.

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  • bittenus
  • 05-19-21

wisdom shouted at you

Great insights into how to make cities financially viable – which luckily aligns well with how to make them more liveable.

The writing is a bit on the aggressive side with a lot of negative superlatives - but not too bad if delivered with a smile. Unfortunately the narration has no smiles and makes it worse so at times you almost feel like you're being shouted at.

Despite the style the insights presented are so important that this is definitely worth a listen.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-18-20

Great perspectives on urban planning

This is a great book if you are interested in urban planning/design. It formalised a lot of ideas that I had come across before and Charles provides a good perspective on the problems faced by many cities from his own experiences.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-11-21

Good content but terrible narrator

the book send an important and powerful message but even as professional town Planner is got tireed of the monotonous narrator

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-07-21

Insightful

We are making alot if the same mistakes here in New Zealand. I can see how it applies to us and why the city is doing some of the things it is doing to fix those mistakes.