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By Edward J. Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. 209 pages, $24.95.
Well-grounded in the social science literature on community, Fortress America is a frightening book, a must-read for all those interested in our nation's cities, suburbs, neighborhoods and communities. Blakely and Snyder take the reader on a well-crafted and lively tour of gated communities in the United States, even-handedly allowing their residents to speak for themselves, yet mincing no words in interpreting and assessing the implications of what the residents say. Even among the many for whom the amenities, and not the gates, were of primary concern, answers to the question, Why live here? revolve around the fear of, crime, others who are different from oneself, losing control of one's surroundings, declining property values, and many other aspects of the modern world. This fear is coupled with a strong belief in individual causes for and solutions to social problems.