The Price of Paradise

The Costs of Inequality and a Vision for a More Equitable America

282 pages

January, 2014

ISBN: 9780814760550



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David Dante Troutt is Professor of Law and Justice John J. Francis Scholar at the Rutgers University-Newark Law School. He also serves as Director of the Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity at Rutgers Law School. Troutt is a columnist, novelist, and the author of several works of nonfiction, most recently After the Storm: Black Intellectuals Explore the Meaning of Hurricane Katrina.

All books by David Dante Troutt

Many American communities, especially the working and middle class, are facing chronic problems: fiscal stress, urban decline, environmental sprawl, failing schools, mass incarceration, political isolation, disproportionate foreclosures, and severe public health risks. In The Price of Paradise, David Dante Troutt argues that it is a lack of what he calls “regional equity” in our local decision making that has led to this looming crisis now facing so many cities and local governments. Unless we adopt policies that take into consideration all class levels, he argues, the underlying inequity affecting poor and middle class communities will permanently limit opportunity for the next generations of Americans.             
Arguing that there are “structural flaws” in the American dream, Troutt explores the role that place plays in our thinking and how we have organized our communities to create or deny opportunity. Through a careful presentation of this crisis at the national level and also through on-the-ground observation in communities like Newark, Detroit, Houston, Oakland, and New York City that all face similar hardships, he makes the case that America’s tendency to separate into enclaves in urban areas or to sprawl off on one’s own in suburbs gravely undermines the American dream. Troutt shows that the tendency to separate also has maintained racial segregation in our cities and towns, itself cementing many barriers for advancement.  A profound conversation about America at the crossroads, The Price of Paradise is a multilayered exploration of the legal, economic, and cultural forces that contribute to the squeeze on the middle class, the hidden dangers of growing income and wealth inequality, and environmentally unsustainable growth and consumption patterns.


  • "A forcefully presented eye-opener sure to provoke controversy as well as interest."


  • "A rare and compelling account of how local governance practices produce racial inequality at every level of American life—and of what we can do about it. Ambitious but pragmatic, the Price of Paradise offers fresh and concrete ideas for solving the most entrenched social problem in American history."

    —Devon Carbado, co-author of Acting White? Rethinking Race in "Post-Racial" America

  • "Troutt definitively demonstrates why no community is an island, and why caring about those people in the neighborhoods on the other side of the tracks can be the best move you could make to secure your own economic future. Troutt's chapter on remaking communities through metropolitan equity should be required reading for policymakers, activists and urban economists alike."

    —Daria Roithmayr, author of Reproducing Racism: How Everyday Choices Lock in White Advantage

  • "David Troutt's The Price of Paradise is a careful analysis and also a personal, passionate critique of the widely held assumptions that have helped generate metropolitan inequity in the United States. The critique and analysis are written in an engaging and readable style, and they are powerful and persuasive. This is a book everyone should read, because the lives of all Americans are structured by the inequities Troutt describes and seeks to overcome."

    —Gerald Frug, author of City Bound: How States Stifle Urban Innovation

  • "Through clear and evocative prose, The Price of Paradise makes the movement for regional equity accessible to the broader public and all those hurt by the disadvantages of regional inequality.It is a clear call for a better and more unified America."

    —Myron Orfield, author of American Metropolitics: The New Suburban Reality