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 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A book like this becomes quickly outdated as can be observed following the sudden international outbreak of the COVID19 virus.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.