Bowling Alone

The Collapse and Revival of American Community
Narrated by: Arthur Morey
Length: 18 hrs and 56 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (202 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 in this brilliant volume, which The Economist hailed as "a prodigious achievement".

Drawing on vast new data that reveal Americans' changing behavior, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from one another and how social structures - whether they be PTA, church, or political parties - have disintegrated. Until the publication of this groundbreaking work, no one had so deftly diagnosed the harm that these broken bonds have wreaked on our physical and civic health, nor had anyone exalted their fundamental power in creating a society that is happy, healthy, and safe.

Like defining works from the past, such as The Lonely Crowd and The Affluent Society, and like the works of C. Wright Mills and Betty Friedan, Putnam's Bowling Alone has identified a central crisis at the heart of our society and suggests what we can do.

©2000 Robert D. Putnam. All rights reserved. (P)2016 Simon & Schuster

What listeners say about Bowling Alone

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Long Long book

I listened to this book which seemed to go on for months. When the narrator is going over facts and stats endless it is just hard to grasp everything.

The whole book boils down to we are no longer a social society in any way. Bowling used to be part of the fabric of each and every community. You went bowling to see friends each week, to make new friends and business contacts. Now everyone just goes online or text.

The author throws out stats after stats showing of the decline in various organization over the last 50 years, and how this decline is an overview of the effects on bowling. I have been in bowling industry for 20 plus years now and there have been numerous factors for the collapse of league bowling. This book gave more incite into some of those factors that I wouldn't have thought about.

10 people found this helpful

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Enlightening, but Dry

Expert analysis of the reduction of social capital, but very dry. Still a classic work.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

He says everything seven times

I was amazed how dry this was even for a policy book. It's probably the most important subject in the English-speaking world, and it manages to come out boring with how aggressive Putnam is with the facts. They just don't stop. Constant reiterations on how nobody goes to community things anymore and how democracy is mortally crippled and how severely Boomers, as a cohort, suck the big one.

I would like to see some updated analysis on the effects of the internet, it was naturally handled lightly given that this book came out when the Lone Gunmen were pirating cable.

If you want the long version, listen to this book and despair; If you want the short:

SPOILERS


People aren't involved in clubs, communities, and friendships at nearly the rate they were before the 60's, and Putnam
attributes like 90% of the cause to television and 10% to feminism.

Also, I can't remember a single thing he might have said about revival. All suggestions seemed naive and doomed to failure

1 person found this helpful

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amazing research and well-written

bowling alone tells the story of how America has lost its group nature. going through a hundred years of research and Analysis this book thoroughly explains some key reasons American society is in the decline.

1 person found this helpful

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Super long, but still profound

Oh man, where to start with this one? I guess I'll begin by saying that this book is long. Honestly, way too long. Yet even given its length, it's still quite profound. Putnam's goal is to basically show that social capital and civic engagement have plummeted as of late and that such a trend has lead to the degradation of our communities as well as a skyrocketing of mental health disorders and societal malaise.

Putnam is very effective in his arguments here. He presents a ton of statistics (sometimes to his detriment, honestly) and never lets his own agenda blind him from the facts. Though he's, for the most part, able to justify his standings throughout the book, there are also a lot of places where he says something to the tune of, "It's really hard to look at the data and make a firm conclusion." I thought this was very cool of him since it's so easy to bias stats and studies in favor of one's agenda. It's clear he has none — just an important message.

That message is extremely profound. Though the book was published in 2000, Putnam knew we were on the verge of a technological and isolation-based revolution. Here, he calls for folks to spend less time sitting passively alone in front of glowing screens and more time in active connection in the community (and that call came before laptop computers, iPads, iPhones, and the like). Though it probably didn't take a genius to make such a conclusion, it's crazy how relevant that warning is to society, 19 years after this book's publication.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the book is super long. At times, I got pretty tired with it. But I just felt like its message was so important that I had to keep going, despite the denseness. Overall, I'm glad I did. Civic disengagement is a more crucial topic today than it likely ever has been. And I think it will only continue to be until we, like Putnam advocates, get out in our communities and do something about it.

-Brian Sachetta
Author of "Get Out of Your Head"

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Deep and interesting.

Comprehensive look at the role community and its various incarnations plays in the health of a community. It made me a little sad to hear the author laying out goals he hoped to have the country accomplish to repair its fracturing by a date 10 years in the past. At least he had the courage to offer potential solutions.
This was a non-fiction book. There was none of the all-too-common, expected editorializing. There was theorizing, but it was properly labeled and as an aspect of the study of the subject was intended to fill in areas where solid data was lacking with educated hypotheses as to what that info would show if available. Very unbiased. Proper journalism.
If your interested in a book that offers depth on a way of American association and an aspect of life which has diminished and may serve us all well to find a way to reinvigorate, this is a good choice.
I like the authors ideas, I think his scholarship and have thought for quite a while that community organizations may be an important part in improving the country and now feel better positioned to understand the pros and cons, pitfalls of early implementations which must be addressed because of massive changes in culture and generally better prepared to conjecture on the ills and possible solutions of our culture and nation.

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Dull voice.

Difficult to hear in a car, but very insightful. The voice fits the content though.

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Where it all started...

The pinnacle of books covering the breakdown and ultimate demise of American communities. Starting with radio... then television... and finally, the internet - more and more Americans just stay home. From the Veteran Support Organizations (VFW, American Legion) to the Rotary, and the Freemasons... and don't forget book clubs and sports leagues -- they are all dead or dying organizations, barely getting by... due to selling out to advertisers. Sadly, staying home means being immersed in a never-ending battle being fought by corporations (and our government)... for your attention (and your money!). Your time is the most valuable thing in existence - stop wasting it. Get out in your towns, cities and rural areas and rebuild your community... and if there is NO community, which is often the case in the suburbs... then BUILD IT. Start a club, volunteer, help out.

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  • 11-13-19

Could be good, but data dumping ruins it.

Way too much data that is not necessary to get a point across. narrator a bit dull also.

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Great insights!

You should however be used to reading scientific literature before starting on this book.