Thinking Small (Paperback)
The United States and the Lure of Community Development
Harvard University Press, 9780674984127, 272pp.
Publication Date: February 26, 2018
Winner of the Merle Curti Award in Intellectual History, Organization of American Historians
Co-Winner of the Society for U.S. Intellectual History Book Award
Thinking Small tells the story of how the United States sought to rescue the world from poverty through small-scale, community-based approaches. And it also sounds a warning: such strategies, now again in vogue, have been tried before, with often disastrous consequences.
"Unfortunately, far from eliminating deprivation and attacking the social status quo, bottom-up community development projects often reinforced them...This is a history with real stakes. If that prior campaign's record is as checkered as Thinking Small argues, then its intellectual descendants must do some serious rethinking... How might those in twenty-first-century development and anti-poverty work forge a better path? They can start by reading Thinking Small."
--Merlin Chowkwanyun, Boston Review
"As the historian Daniel Immerwahr demonstrates brilliantly in Thinking Small, the history of development has seen constant experimentation with community-based and participatory approaches to economic and social improvement...Immerwahr's account of these failures should give pause to those who insist that going small is always better than going big."
--Jamie Martin, The Nation