For the first time, a majority of Americans now live in the suburbs—places that have been transformed over the past several decades by boom-and-bust construction cycles and rapid demographic shifts.

On this episode, associate editor Regina Munch speaks with journalist Benjamin Herold about his new book Disillusioned: Five Families and the Unraveling of America’s Suburbs, which profiles five families in the suburbs of Dallas, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Los Angeles. 

American suburbs were never sustainable, Herold argues. They were built for upwardly mobile white families, who extracted wealth and benefits before moving further out and sticking subsequent generations—often families of color—with the bill. 

Now that we’ve begun reckoning with this painful legacy, Herold invites us to look for seeds of renewal.

For further reading: 

“Thus the suburb served as an asylum for the preservation of illusion.”—Lewis Mumford
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