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

American communities are facing chronic problems: fiscal stress, urban decline, environmental sprawl, mass incarceration, political isolation, disproportionate foreclosures and severe public health risks. In The Price of Paradise, David Troutt argues that it is a lack of mutuality in our local decision making that has led to this looming crisis facing cities and local governments.         

Arguing that there are structural flaws in the American dream, Troutt investigates the role that place plays in our thinking and how we have organized our communities to create or deny opportunity. Legal rules and policies that promoted mobility for most citizens simultaneously stifled and segregated a growing minority by race, class and—most importantly—place.             

A 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 the literature on how growth and consumption patterns are environmentally unsustainable. 


  • “Overall, this book is an exceptional example of how to have a poignant discussion of how race still matters in what many have called a post-racial society. As such, this book should be read by professionals and students studying urban studies and planning, demography, history, and American race relations. Scholars whose interests are at the intersection of policy, race, and poverty will also be well served by readying the issues presented in this book.”

    Social Forces

  • "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