The Bulldozer in the Countryside: Suburban Sprawl and the Rise of American Environmentalism. By Adam Rome. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 299 pp. ISBN 978-0-521-80490-5).
In a time where many suburban mothers are choosing which type of bottled water to purchase based on the recyclability of the plastic, Adam Rome comes into his arena with a book that shakes the casual environmental activist to the core. In this book, Rome uses the post-World War II construction boom to show the reader that the push for mass consumerism is negatively impacting the environment. For his example, Rome shows how the housing market created a suburban sprawl that was not at all environmentally friendly.
Rome shows that although it was obvious that the bulldozers were creating havoc with the countryside, it was much more than that. The excessive use of the septic tank per square mile in suburbia caused a pollution of the surrounding soil and groundwater with the waste by-products of the suburbanites, for example. He also shows that although solar homes were on the construction boards for a while, they were soon replaced by a market driven electric home complete with electric stoves, electric heat, and air conditioning. These tract homes were a quick way to home ownership, which created the illusion of the American Dream, yet it was quickly becoming a nightmare creating flooding, erosion, and poor land-use policies.Read More