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Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community

4 Ratings: 3.5
non-fiction book by Robert D. Putnam

Once we bowled in leagues, usually after work; but no longer. This seemingly small phenomenon symbolizes a significant social change that Robert Putnam has identified and describes in this brilliant volume, Bowling Alone. Drawing on vast new data … see full wiki

Author: Robert D. Putnam
Genre: Social Sciences
Publisher: Simon
Date Published: August 7, 2001
1 review about Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival...

One of the most important books of the past decade!

  • Nov 30, 2008
Robert Putnam has written one of the most important books I have read in a long, long time.  When was the last time you called a friend or associate and proposed going out to a ballgame or to a show only to be rebuffed because there was a ball game on TV that night?  How many times has that sort of thing happened to you?  "Bowling Alone:  The Collapse and Revival of American Community" discusses the reasons why so many people have become isolated and out of touch with family and friends.  The reasons are myriad.  Obviously, the aforementioned "boob tube" is a major contributing factor.  But as Putnam discusses there are so many more reasons.  The go-go 24 hour a day economy has robbed us all of much of our leisure time.  And even when we do manage to get some time off everyone else we know is probably working.  In addition, our society's seemingly endless quest for "personal fulfillment" has made so many people withdraw into themselves. Given all of the choices we are now presented with in media and other activities, there are fewer and fewer common experiences we can share at the water cooler.

In the pages of "Bowling Alone" Putnam also laments the decline of the various fraternal organizations that sprang up in the first quarter of the twentieth century.  Groups like the Elks, the Knights of Columbus and the VFW are all struggling to survive.  No one joins groups like these anymore and that is really a shame.  Our communities are the big losers because the services provided by these organizations have either disappeared or have had to be assumed by the government. 

"Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community" is an extremely thought provoking book. Putnam certainly diagnoses the problems and offers up some solutions.  But these problems are not easily solved.  If the events of 9/11 did not wake us all up, then one has to wonder if anything will.   Very highly recommended!
One of the most important books of the last decade!

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January 18, 2010
I don't know about America, but I do know it takes a lot of money to simply go out and socialize. That could be one reason. Lack of money for many. It's cheaper to stay home :-)
January 18, 2010
This book is not just about getting together with friends but also about becoming involved with your church or various civic organizations. Lots of people simply are not willing to do it anymore and I believe that our society is the worse for it.
January 18, 2010
I agree. Although if one has friends doing them, it's more attractive for each and everyone to get involved too. Unfortunately, the gas prices skyrocketed and with many people unemployed, I figure they don't even have the mood to see anyone, although one never knows, sometimes one thing leads to another.
August 08, 2009
Hi Paul......very interesting review and a subject matter that I've lectured on many times. Is this a new book?? Your review hits the nail on the head, as there are many reasons America doesn't talk anymore. Communities are a dying breed, I think. Good point when you say "if the events of 9/11 did not wake us up, then one has to wonder if anything will." After the attack things were better for awhile, people hung out, talked more, but then unfortunately as human nature dictates, folks went back to thier old habits.
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