September 01, 1980 12:00 PM

by Kirkpatrick Sale

Contrary to the historic American assumption, Sale does not believe that big is better. Big—in buildings, supermarkets, superhighways and even societies—more often leads to disaster, he writes. “Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and several tiny Mideast oil nations all have higher per capita incomes than the U.S. and industrial growth rates [that are] quite a bit healthier,” he points out. Sale, whose earlier work, Power Shift, popularized the phrase and chronicled the rise of “the Sun Belt,” is most effective here in analyzing government bureaucracy, which now represents a frightening one-fourth of the U.S. labor force. He admits his debt to E.F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful (Gov. Jerry Brown’s bible); this follow-up is brilliant, if demanding. It asks us to revolutionize our thinking and, with enormous effort, “to create for ourselves a world in which our societies, our economies and our politics are in fact in the hands of those…that will be affected by them.” (Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, $15.95)

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