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Thinking Small
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Daniel Immerwahr is Associate Professor of History at Northwestern University.

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Daniel Immerwahr's Thinking Small: The United States and the Lure of Community Development pours a bucket of cold water on this type of thinking, now experiencing a resurgence among development agencies, policy entrepreneurs, and influential foundations. It uses three case studies (in India, the Philippines, and the United States) to upend the stock portrait of mid-twentieth century development, which focuses on the evils of top-down intervention. In the conventional story, development is a field dominated by 'modernizers, ' whose hubristic efforts result in catastrophic consequences for those they were designed to benefit... 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" (02/23/2015)
An impressive history that will quickly become required reading for the growing ranks of historians interested in topics ranging from modernization to the War on Poverty. Immerwahr's rich and insightful book has much to offer to anyone interested in twentieth-century America and, especially, its efforts to combat poverty at home and abroad.--David C. Engerman, author of Know Your Enemy
Persuasively fills a major gap in both the study of American interventions in the developing world and the history of the Cold War. Immerwahr demonstrates that the inspiration for community development projects was not simply the product of social science research and domestic initiatives, but--particularly in the case of the War on Poverty--was shaped by the nature and outcomes of programs in developing nations, especially China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines. Thinking Small should be read not only by historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and economists, but also by policymakers, activists, planners, and field agents.--Michael Adas, author of Dominance by Design
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" (04/08/2015)

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