High-Risers

Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing
Narrated by: Ron Butler
Length: 13 hrs and 33 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (94 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Joining the ranks of Evicted, The Warmth of Other Sons, and classic works of literary nonfiction by Alex Kotlowitz and J. Anthony Lukas, High-Risers braids personal narratives, city politics, and national history to tell the timely and epic story of Chicago's Cabrini-Green, America's most iconic public housing project.

Built in the 1940s atop an infamous Italian slum, Cabrini-Green grew to 23 towers and a population of 20,000 - all of it packed onto just 70 acres a few blocks from Chicago's ritzy Gold Coast. Cabrini-Green became synonymous with crime, squalor, and the failure of government. For the many who lived there, it was also a much-needed resource - it was home. By 2011, every high-rise had been razed, the island of black poverty engulfed by the white affluence around it, the families dispersed.

In this novelistic and eye-opening narrative, Ben Austen tells the story of America's public housing experiment and the changing fortunes of American cities. It is an account told movingly though the lives of residents who struggled to make a home for their families as powerful forces converged to accelerate the housing complex's demise. Beautifully written, rich in detail, and full of moving portraits, High-Risers is a sweeping exploration of race, class, popular culture, and politics in modern America that brilliantly considers what went wrong in our nation's effort to provide affordable housing to the poor - and what we can learn from those mistakes.

©2018 Ben Austen (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"Author Ben Austen and narrator Ron Butler create something special in this outstanding examination of Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing projects. Butler captures the characters of residents, cops, housing officials, and others.... This is a fine, sympathetic portrait of a place and its people, both of which have long been overshadowed by myth and stereotype." (AudioFile)  

What listeners say about High-Risers

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Loved it

I grew up in the burbs of Chicago and have lived in the city for 20 years now. I’ve always been fascinated with Cabrini Green and frequently drove by the different parts over the years. Back in the day it made my heart beat fast just driving through...it’s always been a notoriously rough place. If your from Chicago you’ll recognize the streets names and conjure up visuals of the Cabrini buildings in your mind. It dives deep into the beginnings at Little Hell, the gang history and the entire story of Cabrini. Along with its history it is also told through the eyes of some of the tenants that lived there which is really interesting. If your fascinated by Cabrini Green or life in the projects you will love this book. This book is well written/read and very entertaining.

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  • JL
  • 02-04-20

How do you fight the wind?

As a lifelong Chicagoan, I grew up afraid of different parts of my city. The violence in my neighborhood and others seemed inevitable and undeniable. Through it all Cabrini Green and the other housing projects remained ghoulish reminders not of individual behavior, but of collective neglect and destabilization by the government. This book does a remarkable job exploring the causes for the crumbling of public housing and the lifelong effects it had. When it comes to the failures of some individuals to overcome Cabrini, how could you fight the wind? How can you fight something bigger than you that is omnipresent.

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Not deep enough

Struggled to finish, yet it didn't get deep into human lives and so we didn't really know what the real problem was.

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Overtly melodramatic, but necessarily so.

Can't really articulate the situation of these populations using rational academic language. Reading something like this is the only way to "get it", and decipher the motivations and mind sets of the disadvantaged African American population.

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Chicago & Public Housing

A great book about the CB projects and the history of public housing in Chicago. Many residents stories are uplifting while others are terrifying.

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Little mention of accountability of the people getting the housing

I see the concept theme about theCabrini green towers but the blame should be on the behavior of the residents and their entitlement attitude. When they moved in the mindset should have been this is temporary even if it was several years and not see it as lifestyle choice for life getting free furniture healthcare food and transportation....even covered moving when they had to be moved to other housing..

1 person found this helpful

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Skewed

Starts out good but becomes a liberal rant. He lost me when he reviewed the Dantrell Davis shooting.His facts were wrong.