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Bowling Alone

The Collapse and Revival of American Community
Narrated by: Arthur Morey
Length: 18 hrs and 56 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (136 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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Enlightening, but Dry

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

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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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.

4 of 5 people found this review 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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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New edition!

This is such widely sourced material, I highly encourage the completion of an updated edition that would include the impact the development of digital social media has had on society, as well as legislation that increases the importance of capital in our political system, as opposed to minimizing that importance as the author argues for in this great work.

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Dry, Long, and Dated, But Thought-Provoking.

Lots of statistics, lots of references* the charts, tables, and graphs "in your PDF File." Details are a bit dated, but the concepts are valid and worth thinking about - and even doing something about.

It's only minimally about bowling (which I knew when I chose it), but as someone who's just getting into bowling, watching how things work socially at our local alley (a very diverse group of nice people having good, clean fun together) that aspect was particularly interesting.

*Note that you do not *have to* refer to the PDF, as the basic ideas are discussed in the book and the PDF just reinforces them with more data. It's not like you'll lose the plot if you're driving and can't pull over to read it. I didn't look it at all, although I might go back and scan through it now.

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Amazing mapping of social capital in the US

This study exhibit an amazing amount of highly trustworthy scientific research into the nature and extend of social capital for the 20th century in the USA.

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A thoroughly informative book.

An amazing work by Robert Putnam, it's a must-read for anyone concerned about America !

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  • Marie
  • WASHINGTON, DC, United States
  • 04-05-19

A lot more boring than I expected

Because of several authors from other social studies books kept referring back to Putnam's Bowling Alone, I figured I should check out the source. Well, the source bored me to tears. I managed to "finish" it by skipping chapters and listening to the last few chapters of the book. I don't know if it was the narrator or the book that made it a dull book. Anyway I did appreciate the attached PDF.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • AGuzman
  • san francisco, CA United States
  • 01-21-19

So long and dry

I wanted to like this book, but the reader was so dry and monotone and it just felt like the book went on forever. I just couldn't handle listening to it anymore. Maybe a different reader or the actual author would help.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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Dry and probably better read than listened to.

Would you try another book from Robert D. Putnam and/or Arthur Morey?

Not applicable for this book.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Not sure.

Did Arthur Morey do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

There are no characters per se, but Arthur Morey was a competent reader. His professorial sounding voice was appropriate for this book.

What character would you cut from Bowling Alone?

There are no characters.

Any additional comments?

Bowling Alone is a sociology textbook. Some authors can write textbooks in such a way that they capture the attention of a lay listener not in the field. This is not one of those books. It's very dry. The book sounded interesting and in many ways was interesting. It was written right around 2000 and much of the data comes from the 1990s and earlier, but in my estimation the trend of lowered civic disengagement has only continued. The book's prescience is one of its strongest qualities.

My biggest annoyance with listening to this book is the authors tendency to list everything over and over. The first time he says "across all demographics" or "types of civic engagement" and then proceeds to list 10 examples each of those things is okay. It's when he does it for the fifth or tenth time that it gets really annoying. If I were reading this book, I would just quickly scan every example of a demographic without really reading it. With the audible version, the listener has to sit through the author telling you that old people are a demographic several times.

My second biggest annoyance, and I'll append the review if this turns out to be wrong, is that the author doesn't really have a cause for the reduction in civic participation. He has a few strong correlations (like TV), but not causation. Also, because the author is unwilling (perhaps in his role as a social scientist is unable) to make a moral judgments or draw moral hypotheses, I think he leaves out potential reasons why civic engagement has dropped. To people stop going to church because they spend too much time watching TV or because they stopped believing in God? The former explored; the latter is not.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful