Our Towns

A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America

“Our Towns” chronicles the authors’ five-year journey across the United States in a small plane. The husband-wife team visits dozens of towns to explore the challenges facing the communities — from economic hardships to the scourge of drugs. They also document the common characteristics that underwrite success in those towns — energy, generosity, determination, compassion and determination. The final chapter summarizes the 10 signs of a thriving city. The book is an uplifting look at the future and how problem-solving begins locally.
417 pages. ©2018.
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Reader Reviews for this Book


Review posted January 25, 2023


Deborah & James give a great insight into rural America and the beauty that comes from small towns. It gives a new perspective on towns that most people overlook, drives through, and quite frankly neglect any value towards. I would recommend a read, especially as a young person, on some of the history that has been central to the United States. Being journalists, the text is easy and enjoyable to read too.


Review posted November 23, 2022


This was a fun book which allowed me to travel along and experience the work done by the authors.


Review posted November 15, 2022


Our Towns was a great read! In the beginning, all I could think about was how travel by small aircraft would be incredibly scary, but after I dealt with that, the details of the book were great. There is something special about noting the towns that emphasize community and build it in a way so that others - both locals and visitors - can embrace all that they offer. It also made me want to take a road trip (not quite at small plane level yet) to all the different places and try out all the spots noted.


Review posted August 29, 2022


I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about their coverage of how cities around the US have taken active measures to revitalize themselves. I happen to live in one of the towns covered, Bend, Oregon, and actually learned more about this place I call home. This is a comeback story for these towns and really read to me as a book about community, urban renewal projects, and recreation. It was not an adventure tale so much as a wonderful journalistic account/reporting on how small towns/cities can create themselves anew. Would really recommend.


Review posted May 15, 2022


This book was a great read. If you want to read a great book that looks into the way others live I recommend it.


Review posted May 2, 2022


What I liked about this book: I really enjoyed the literary tour from town to town. It will be of interest to those who like the Americana and Travelling genres. I got some good ideas for a next vacation. What I disliked: Some of the towns were really glossed over, such as Rapid City. The chapter was mostly about a single hotel. I think they could have left that chapter out altogether. I also thought the analysis of class and race issues in towns was pretty non-existent. Overall I enjoyed reading about the history of some small American towns.


Review posted January 23, 2022


I found this book to be a really interesting walk through the heart of our country. I enjoyed it very much.


Review posted June 17, 2021


My mom really enjoyed this book. Being a born and raised Oregonian she loved ready about the towns that make up this great state.


Review posted June 17, 2021


Loved the book. Enjoyed hearing about areas I have visited and some I hope to visit in the future. This book really makes you think.


Review posted May 2, 2021


I didn't feel like I was getting the most important information nor places one would love to explore that wasn't already picked apart by other authors. The booked read more like the authors going on invited trips in towns wanting to be on the map and their writing really leaned political. I get it, they were showing how many towns were trying to survive; however, they truly needed an editor to guide them how to write what people would like to read.


Review posted April 19, 2021


What a fun read this was! Our little town was even mentioned in it. This book gets to the heart of what makes small towns so special. I recommend this to any city official or person interested in bettering your community. There is a special formula to small town success and this book explains it.


Review posted February 13, 2021


Fallows, James, and Deborah Fallows Our Towns. Eye-opening. I focused on areas that are familiar to me – education and libraries. THe Fallows show that with courage, vision, and often a motivated businessperson, declining communities can renovate themselves. Their examples surprised me – how single changes, such as a library that rebuilds in a distressed area, or a school that engages its elementary-age children with local industries – can ripple outward to promote a more desirable city. One key point: that citizens need to work together on practical, local possibilities. It stimulates me to consider how does my city, Eugene Oregon, fit in this picture? And, BTW – this book is detailed but readable, with quotes, anecdotes, and humor. Absolutely worth reading and thinking about.


Review posted December 31, 2020


A terrific read, reminds of the old "On The Road" series that Charles Karault did for CBS News. At the end of a difficult year this is a great tonic. America will come through stronger than ever from the tests it has faced in the 2017-20 period.


Review posted July 21, 2020


Every town has it's own personality. American cities are the best places to visit with much learning to be had. The look at the insides of each city is powerful and full.


Review posted June 7, 2020


A book like this becomes quickly outdated as can be observed following the sudden international outbreak of the COVID19 virus. This couple visited cities across the nation and reported back on the cities' current (most currently 2018) state of affairs. This book, instead of being a book to inspire and give faith that Americans are working toward enlivening their small towns, now becomes a document of a point in time, as all of the cities visited have most certainly changed dramatically since James and Deb's visits.

Jan Diamantine

Review posted May 28, 2020


Interesting read and I grew up around Sioux Falls, SD so especially enjoyed that part. Thanks so much for offering this great service.


Review posted April 16, 2020


This is not a book to devour in one sitting. I feel each town and area deserves thorough reading and re-reading of what the authors have discovered about the places. The writing is excellent and the points of view of James and Deb are complementary to each other. The book makes me want to visit many of the little towns and, in fact, I was planning a road trip in my camper van from Oregon to the East Coast for this summer. Of course, that plan has been postponed thanks to COVID-19. I promise myself I will do it next year. One has to wonder now how the current pandemic and crashing economy will affect many of the plans for rebuilding these small towns. We can only hope that the planners don't lose heart and give up. I definitely recommend this book for a perspective on how others look at their home towns.


Review posted April 7, 2020


Good Read


Review posted April 6, 2020


Hard read. Thought it be more like an adventure


Review posted January 22, 2020


interesting read across America.. things you normally never read


Review posted January 10, 2020


After this book ready for a road trip such a pleasure to read appreciate their insight


Review posted October 21, 2019


I loved this book! I read it on an airplane on a trip cross country and was so inspired by the stories of rural/small city america. The writers are incredibly charming and I enjoyed hearing of their adventures and learning about what makes places and people great.


Review posted October 12, 2019


When I began reading "Our Towns..." I was not very impressed however by page eighty-six I was making notes about what authors James and Deborah Fallows had to say about some of the communities they visited. For someone casting about for solutions to downtown decay and feckless solutions this book may provide answers. Sure , many of the solutions other communities have adopted to revitalize their area of interest are not workable here the next page may reveal some very useable information. I like the book.


Review posted July 1, 2019


The cover of the book is nice and the idea of flying around the country visiting many of the small and medium sized towns sounds like a fun experience. I think it would have made a better magazine article than a whole book. i really enjoyed the story about their encounter with a government testing zone where the government was seeing if they could disable connections with air traffic control and radar. That would have been a scary situation and a potentially dangerous test.