After The Death and Life of Great American Cities came out in 1961, Robert Moses returned the copy he had received to its publisher, with instructions to sell the “libelous” monograph to somebody else. (The letter, mentioned in a recent New York Times review of the Jane Jacobs exhibit up now at the Municipal Art Society, is on display there.) The publisher did, to quite a few people. According to Vintage Books, the book’s paperback publisher, Jacobs’ work has sold more than 500,000 copies.
That number outpaces not just Mr. Moses’ own books (none of which appear to remain in print), but also Robert Caro’s ample biography of the man, The Power Broker, which has sold about 319,000 copies, its publisher told The Observer for an article earlier this year.