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The Cul-De-Sac Syndrome The Cul-De-Sac Syndrome

by John Wasik

Book Reviews

"John Wasik's The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome offers enough to chew on for three sets of teeth, enough to digest for three stomachs, and then alerts the mind faster than an approaching siren."
--Ralph Nader, Consumer advocate

"Get ready for a totally original look at the American dream. Wasik delivers the first truly multidisciplinary examination -- using planning, law, architecture, and history to focus on working solutions that can keep the dream alive. This is a winner!"
--Paul B. Farrell, JD, PhD, Columnist,, author of The Millionaire Code

This excellent book takes a ground-level look at the causes of our housing crisis and offers myriad ideas on reinventing the concepts of home and community."
--Ilyce R.Glink, Syndicated real estate columnist and author of 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask

"A genuine kick to the head, showing how our individual quests for the biggest house on the hill is destroying our environment, the economy, and our health. But The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome is no dead end. It offers a green, urbanized promised land with real community, more free time, and a higher living standard. It's a masterful blueprint to unpave paradise and restore the world we cherish."
--Laurence Kotlikoff, Coauthor of Spend 'Til the End: The Revolutionary Guide to Raising Your Living Standard -- Today and When You Retire

Online Reviews

"Wasik offers a way out, calling for a re-imagining of the American Dream and endorsing model zoning codes, energy efficient homes, smart electrical grids, upgraded public transportation, and investment in green jobs. The reader might challenge the government subsidies Wasik calls for on the grounds that they will, like all public subsidies, be misused and abused. The reader might also note that a 'green' house, in the hands of an irresponsible owner, is just as susceptible to foreclosure as an old stick built shanty. Yet The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome remains a stimulating read that will appeal to forward thinkers, those who still believe in that most American of ideals: Progress." 
--Life Two

"Cul-de-Sac is an absolute must read for anyone who wants to know how the housing boom went awry, get a sneak peek at solutions for the future, and especially anyone considering buying their first home, or their tenth. Its one of those rare books that is so enjoyable to read that you won't be aware its (sic) teaching you more about history, science, economics, and real estate than you would ever learn in a semester long college course or from hours of listening to overpriced talking heads on CNBC."
--Daily Kos

"This extremely current book (some early 2009 data is included) does a nice job of explaining a complex problem in easily understood terms; it's consumer-friendly. Also, Wasik's elaboration of the sustainable possibilities for communities educates readers who wish to play a role in the metamorphosis that must take place to prevent another housing recession in the future."

"This weekend I had a chance to read The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome - Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream by John F. Wasik. It was a timely read as it has much to so with the current economic situation and what got us here but it is short on political blame and deals more with the attitudes and ideals that have permeated within the American mindset and how that has caused a lot of trouble for us."
--Nature Moms

"Though not heavy-handed, Wasik shows no love for the Bush Administration and guarded hope for the policies thus far promised by the Obama Administration. Time will tell if his faith is rewarded. Overall, Cul-De-Sac is a good synthesis of current Green and New Urbanism thinking ('Green Urbanism'?) and Wasik is an interesting and lively guide."
--Cilo Political

"In the end, Mr. Wasik wraps everything up by giving solutions to the problems. The solutions, in my opinion, have some merit. This is one of those books that you hope your elected official is reading but they probably aren't. This book is not for the faint of heart. If you are in love with the concept of the 'American Dream', it's actually a tough pill to swallow. But it’s what we need right now. We need to start thinking about the way we live. Based on the information in this book, this is the start of that conversation."
--The Desultory Life and Times

"Wasik does a great job in both describing the problem and offering various solutions. I like the fact that he keeps the discussion as practical as possible with many examples that makes this book much more than a theoretical manifesto -- it is a description of a dream that once was admired by everyone and its demise. Moreover, it's a description of a new dream, a sustainable one that can shape the future of the U.S. and creates a whole new American dream."

"Before I read the book I assumed it was going to be a bash the suburbs type deal. This book was not exactly what I thought it would be. Mr. Wasik talks about the dying concept of the suburbs from the way houses are built to the location of the communities. This is a real policy wonk book that gives figures along with timelines. It's a book that should be used for classes on Real Estate and Urban Planning."
--The Desultory Life and Times

"Wasik explores options for restoring the concept of home and community with a solid foundation. As he works his way through to the answer, 'Build Smart,' we are enlightened and encouraged to recognize the importance of personal values as we attempt to come back from the brink. Jefferson's ideas of sufficiency were lost somewhere along the way, but that doesn't mean we can't turn back. Maybe we can go home again."
--Blog Critics

"John Wasik doesn't stop the narrative with his description of how unsustainable the real estate bubble was. He discusses what is probably even more important: how unsustainable the homes themselves are in terms of design, placement within the infrastructure, and energy consumption. He shows how these factors are adding to the misery of homeowners who cannot afford to pay to heat and cool their mini mansions, nor can they afford the necessary commute to work. The cost of these energy inputs (largely from fossil fuels) is stifling both the consumer and the earth's biosphere."
--Green Home Building

"Cul-de-Sac Syndrome is a good read for anyone interested in the housing crisis, the mortgage meltdown, the environmental impact of housing in America . . . or people thinking about buying their first house. There's plenty to think about for the conscientious first-time home buyer. Wasik's writing style is clean and informative. This is not a book the average reader will pick up for fun, but if you're looking for a serious, concise look at the topic, Cul-de-Sac Syndrome is a winner."
--Internet Review of Books

"The Cul-De-Sac Syndrome, is a slim book that is really two books in one. The first is an explanation of the financial crisis and the second is a prescription on what can be done to change American culture that was the underlying cause of the crisis. The author explains the crisis as the inevitable result of the American need to build ever larger homes that ultimately resulted in the building of Mac-mansions on Cul De Sac (sic) far from the inner city, thus the name the Cul-De-Sac Syndrome John Wasik believes that it has been part of the American ethos to strive for that ever larger home, and thus families over the last decades have stretched beyond their means to buy houses homes they could not afford, in areas that they could not afford to commute to especially once gas prices rose beyond their historic lows."
--History Central

"How did it happen? Wasik takes a really in-depth look at what lead up to the one of the greatest housing market breakdowns of all time. The author defines it as 'The culde-sac syndrome (sic), a combination of some of the more glaring financial and cultural ailments that have led us to a dead end in private American housing.' At the heart of it all is a cause much deeper than anyone has explored before. According to the author, 'The stereotypical villains in the subprime story have been Wall Street bankers, the government, and greedy participants, from speculating "flippers" to the Federal Reserve.' The great American homeownership dream is the author's proposed underlying cause. That dream has lead many homeowners to purchase mega houses that require two incomes to build and sustain.”