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29 books on failed utopias that inspired Curbed’s podcast ‘Nice Try!’

The first season of Nice Try! explores past attempts at creating utopias. With host Avery Trufelman, we explored an integrated midcentury suburb outside Philadelphia, a self-sustaining closed ecosystem in the Arizona desert, and a free-love commune in New York, among others. In producing the series, we read many books filled with incredible stories and histories that we couldn’t fit into each episode. If you’re interested in learning more about each of these failed utopias, the 29 books below are a good place to start.

All seven episodes of the series are now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or in your favorite podcast app.

Episode 1: Utopia for Whom?

The first episode of the series explores Jamestown, explaining how British colonists’ pursuit of a new world devolved into starvation and war. For this story, the research of Kathleen Donegan and Karen Kupperman—two experts in the colony’s history—was indispensable.

Episode 2: The Modernist Utopia

Building cities from scratch is an ever-present obsession: Can you design a certain way of life and a specific culture into a place? Episode 2 investigated how India attempted to do just that with Chandigarh, a modernist city intended to embody democracy. We consulted the research of Vikramaditya Prakash, an architecture professor and son of one of Chandigarh’s architects, to understand how a culture clash played out in the

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