Synopses & Reviews
In Four Lost Cities, acclaimed science journalist Annalee Newitz takes readers on an entertaining and mind-bending adventure into the deep history of urban life. Investigating across the centuries and around the world, Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vacation town of Pompeii on Italy's southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today.
Newitz travels to all four sites and investigates the cutting-edge research in archaeology, revealing the mix of environmental changes and political turmoil that doomed these ancient settlements. Tracing the early development of urban planning, Newitz also introduces us to the often anonymous workers — slaves, women, immigrants, and manual laborers — who built these cities and created monuments that lasted millennia.
Four Lost Cities is a journey into the forgotten past, but, foreseeing a future in which the majority of people on Earth will be living in cities, it may also reveal something of our own fate.
"Highly recommended for anyone interested in that question and in what history can tell us about the possibilities for the future." Booklist (Starred Review)
"A revealing look at the ancient past that speaks thoughtfully to the global-warming present." Kirkus Reviews
"[E]nergetic and intriguing....Newitz skillfully fuses personal reflections with scientific observations, and offers a welcome tribute to the legacy of human resilience. This richly detailed, progressively minded history is worth exploring." Publishers Weekly
"The author's observations are well-researched, current, and directly applicable to our modern lives....An excellent contribution to literature on ancient civilization and complexity." Library Journal
"Newitz always sees to the heart of complex systems and breaks them down with poetic ferocity." N. K. Jemisin, author of the Broken Earth trilogy and The City We Became
"Cheerful, curious, amused, and amusing, Annalee Newitz is a fabulous tour guide through the latest archaeological perspectives on four of humankind's most remarkable urban experiments. Along the way, Newitz dispels myths, evokes fascinating stories — and makes us think hard about our own urban future." Charles Mann, author of 1491 and 1493
About the Author
Annalee Newitz, a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, is a founder of io9 and former editor-in-chief of Gizmodo. They are the author of Scatter, Adapt, and Remember and the novels Autonomous and The Future of Another Timeline. They live in San Francisco.