Synopses & Reviews
For the first time in the history of our planet, more than half the population-3.3 billion people-is now living in cities. City is the ultimate guidebook to our urban centers-the signature unit of human civilization. With erudite prose and carefully chosen illustrations, this unique work of metatourism explores what cities are and how they work. It covers history, customs and language, districts, transport, money, work, shops and markets, and tourist sites, creating a fantastically detailed portrait of the city through history and into the future.
The urban explorer will revel in essays on downtowns, suburbs, shantytowns and favelas, graffiti, skylines, crime, the theater, street food, sport, eco-cities, and sacred sites, as well as mini essays on the Tower of Babel, flash mobs, ghettos, skateboarding, and SimCity, among many others. Drawing on a vast range of examples from across the world and throughout history, City is extensively illustrated with full-color photographs, maps, and other images. Acclaimed author and independent scholar P. D. Smith explores what it was like to live in the first cities, how they have evolved, and why in the future, cities will play an even greater role in human life.
"Smith (Doomsday Men: The Real Doctor Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon), a University College London researcher, has penned an engrossing, illustrated guide to 7,000 years of urban life for an age when more than half of the world's population lives in cities. From the earliest Sumerian city of Eridu to the wired eco-cities of the future, Smith embarks on a multicentury tour highlighting urban history, customs, infrastructure, architecture, language, markets, crime, parks, cemeteries, transportation, food, and leisure activities across cultures. He excels at providing panoramic yet focused views of a particular subject, such as when tracing the development of language from cuneiform script to 16th-century street speech and its effect on cockney, to the new London dialect of the 21st century, Jafaican. Whether evoking the slums of Mumbai, a 1905 dinner party at London's Savoy Hotel, or the Aztec capital of TenochtitlÃ¡n before CortÃ©s conquered it in 1521, Smith proves a lively, learned narrator with a strong synthetic sense. Discursive, imaginative, and comprehensive, his analysis of everything from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to skateboarding and graffiti should be savored. Read in parts or whole, readers can wander and drift, and enjoy the element of surprise, just as in the exploration of a real city. Photos. Agent: Peter Tallack, the Science Factory. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
For the first time in the history of the planet, more than half the population - 3.3 billion people - are now living in cities. Two hundred years ago only 3 per cent of the world's population were urbanites, a figure that had remained fairly stable (give or take the occasional plague) for about 1000 years. By 2030, 60 per cent of us will be urban dwellers.
City is the ultimate handbook for the archetypal city and contains main sections on 'History', 'Customs and Language', 'Districts', 'Transport', 'Money', 'Work', 'Tourist Sites', 'Shops and markets', 'Nightlife', etc., and mini-essays on anything and everything from Babel, Tenochtitlán and Ellis Island to Beijing, Mumbai and New York, and from boulevards, suburbs, shanty towns and favelas, to skylines, urban legends and the sacred. Drawing on a wide range of examples from cities across the world and throughout history, it explores the reasons why people first built cities and why urban populations are growing larger every year.
City is illustrated throughout with a range of photographs, maps and other illustrations.
About the Author
P. D. Smith
is an independent researcher and writer. He has taught at University College London where he is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Science and Technology Studies Department and has contributed to the Guardian
and writes for other publications including The Times
and the Times Literary Supplement
and regularly contributes to the acclaimed website 3 Quarks Daily
. His books include Doomsday Men: The Real Dr Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon
Author's website: www.peterdsmith.com