Synopses & Reviews
In The Geography of Nowhere
, James Howard Kunstler declared suburbia "a tragic landscape of cartoon architecture, junked cities, and ravaged countryside" and put himself at the heart of a fierce debate over how we will live in twenty-first century America. Now, Kunstler turns his wickedly mordant and astute eye on urban life both in America and across the world. From classical Rome to the "gigantic hairball" of contemporary Atlanta, he offers a far-reaching discourse on the history and current state of urban life.
The City in Mind tells the story of urban design and how the architectural makeup of a city directly influences its culture as well as its success. From the ingenious architectural design of Louis-Napoleon's renovation of Paris to the bloody collision of cultures that occurred when Cortés conquered the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, from the grandiose architectural schemes of Hitler and Albert Speer to the meanings behind the ludicrous spectacle of Las Vegas, Kunstler opens up a new dialogue on the development and effects of urban construction. In his investigations, he discovers American communities in the Sunbelt and Southwest alienated from each other and themselves, Northeastern cities caught between their initial civic construction and our current car-obsessed society, and a disparate Europe with its mix of pre-industrial creativity, and war-marked reminders of the twentieth century.
Expanding on ideas first discussed in Jane Jacobs' seminal work, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Kunstler looks to Europe to discover what is constant and enduring in cities at their greatest, and at the same time, how a city's design can be directly linked to its decline. In these dazzling excursions he finds the reasons that America got lost in its suburban wilderness and locates the pathways in culture that might lead to a civic revival here. Kunstler's examination of these cities is at once a concise history of their urban lives and a detailed criticism of how those histories have either aided or hindered the social and civil progress of the cities' occupants. By turns dramatic and wildly comic, and always authoritative, The City in Mind, is an exceptional glimpse into the urban condition.
"An absolutely brilliant collection of essays on cities
and why they do and don't work through time and around the globe." Kevin Baker, author of
In the highly acclaimed andlt;Iandgt;The Geography of Nowhere,andlt;/Iandgt; James Howard Kunstler declared suburbia "a tragic landscape" and fueled a fierce debate over how we will live in twenty-first-century America. Here, Kunstler turns his discerning eye to urban life in America and beyond in dazzling excursions to classical Rome, the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, Louis-Napoleon's Paris, the "gigantic hairball" that is contemporary Atlanta, the ludicrous spectacle of Las Vegas, and more. Seeking to discover what is constant and enduring in cities at their greatest, Kunstler explores how America got lost in suburban wilderness and locates pathways that might lead to civic revival. His authoritative tour is both a concise history of cities and a stunning critique of how they can aid or hinder social and civil progress. By turns dramatic and comic, andlt;Iandgt;The City in Mindandlt;/Iandgt; is an exceptional glimpse into the urban condition.
About the Author
James Howard Kunstler's two previous books, The Geography of Nowhere and Home from Nowhere have become classics. He is also the author of eight novels. His articles appear regularly in The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Slate, and Metropolis Magazine. He has been a reporter for several metropolitan daily papers and an editor with Rolling Stone. He has appeared on TV's Nightline, Dateline, and in numerous documentaries about the predicament of American cities and suburbs.
Table of Contents
PARIS The Achievements of Napoleon III and Georges Eugène Haussman
ATLANTA Does Edge City Have a Future?
MEXICO CITY The End of the World and Other Cataclysms
BERLIN The Paradoxes of History
LAS VEGAS Utopia of Clowns
ROME In Search of the Classical
BOSTON Overcoming History and Modernism
LONDON Landscape as the Cure for Cities