Synopses & Reviews
On a September day in 1920, an angry Italian anarchist named Mario Budaexploded a horse-drawn wagon filled with dynamite and iron scrap nearNew York’s Wall Street, killing 40 people. Since Buda’s prototype thecar bomb has evolved into a “poor man’s air force,” a generic weapon ofmass destruction that now craters cities from Bombay to Oklahoma City.
In this brilliant and disturbing history, Mike Davis traces itsworldwide use and development, in the process exposing the role ofstate intelligence agencies—particularly those of the United States,Israel, India, and Pakistan—in globalizing urban terrorist techniques.Davis argues that it is the incessant impact of car bombs, rather thanthe more apocalyptic threats of nuclear or bio-terrorism, that ischanging cities and urban lifestyles, as privileged centers of powerincreasingly surround themselves with “rings of steel” against a weaponthat nevertheless seems impossible to defeat.
"From the world's first car bomb in 1920 (actually a horse-drawn wagon, exploded by anarchist Mario Buda in downtown Manhattan), to those incessantly exploding in Iraq, Davis shows how these 'quotidian workhorses of urban terrorism' are responsible for 'producing the most significant mutations in city form and urban lifestyle.' Whether the product of fringe militancy or 'clandestine state terrorism,' Davis shows, the car bomb has a limitless capacity to create and sustain fear (largely because of low cost and technological accessibility). Given the weapon's ubiquity in modern times, a 'brief history' scarcely allows room for the numerous theaters of conflict within which the car bomb has evolved, including Northern Ireland, Beirut, Israel, the U.S. and Colombia, let alone much political background on, say, the Tamil Tigers' bombing campaign in Sri Lanka. At its best, this is a gripping supplementary history, full of surprising, often contrarian facts and voices behind some of the most spectacular acts of violence on record. Despite clearly populist sympathies, Davis steers away from romanticism, keeping tight focus on the indiscriminate violence inflicted upon innocents. Packed with horrific and heartrending details, the book goes beyond the statistics to portray the human and moral costs of this gruesome political lever. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This history of the car bomb traces the political development of this influential weapon of terror and resistance.
In this provocative history, Mike Davis traces the car bomb's worldwide use and development, in the process exposing the role of state intelligence agencies'"particularly those of the United States, Israel, India, and Pakistan'"in globalizing urban terrorist techniques. Davis argues that it is the incessant impact of car bombs, rather than the more apocalyptic threats of nuclear or bio-terrorism, that is changing cities and urban lifestyles, as privileged centers of power increasingly surround themselves with 'rings of steel' against a weapon that nevertheless seems impossible to defeat.
Praise for Planet of Slums
"A brilliant book." Arundhati Roy
"A heartbreaking book... the astonishing facts hit like anvil blows" Financial Times
About the Author
Mike Davis is the author of several books including Planet of Slums, City of Quartz, Ecology of Fear, Late Victorian Holocausts, and Magical Urbanism. He was recently awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. He lives in Papa’aloa, Hawaii.