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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instant Cities, Lasting Effects
Greg Lindsay is one of the first writers to commit the resources to understanding the effect of air travel on urbanity. Despite all the talk about "Instant" cities and "just in time" delivery, over the past three years, he has clearly shown himself to be a tenacious, shoe-leather journalist, having traveled to the far corners of the world and interviewed countless dozens...
Published on March 1, 2011 by Daniel Safarik

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Couple of Magazine Articles Stitched Together
The book presents an interesting thesis about the economic engine that newer airports can become. It also offers enough cautionary tales to ensure that readers don't come away thinking that concrete and a grader can buy happiness. Unfortunately, this book needed fact-checking and more thorough editing. It lacks coherent organization. With it, the book could sustain the...
Published on April 7, 2011 by mrcedarhill


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Couple of Magazine Articles Stitched Together, April 7, 2011
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The book presents an interesting thesis about the economic engine that newer airports can become. It also offers enough cautionary tales to ensure that readers don't come away thinking that concrete and a grader can buy happiness. Unfortunately, this book needed fact-checking and more thorough editing. It lacks coherent organization. With it, the book could sustain the loss of about one-third of its pages, which seem terribly redundant. The principal author intermitently adopts a first-person voice especially when retelling how he gathered his information, while the supposed lead author, Kasarda, is quoted in the second person as if he is an oracle on this topic. At times, the book seems a thinly veiled promotional tool for Kasarda's airport consultancy. There were several errors I bumped into, the most notable was the repeated misspelling of the late real estate developer Trammell Crow's name. A Google-equipped fact-checker could have solved thus problem. It made me wonder what else wasn't quite on point. At the end of the day, you've got a couple Atlantic monthly length pieces in hardcover.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unbalanced, April 26, 2011
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The book challenges us with its approach to the subject matter. It amounts to a 400+ page brochure about John Kasarda's work as a business consultant. He's obviously very bright and thoughtful, and Greg Lindsay writes articulately. However the book's overall style seems unique and well, uncomfortable. Lindsay is writing about Kasarda in the third person, discussing "Kasarda's plans" etc. Yet Kasarda is a co-author, suggesting a first person discussion, because the book is all about Kasarda's ideas guided by Kasarda's overall thoughts. Why didn't Kasarda write this himself? Or why didn't Lindsay write the book about Kasarda? Had Lindsay been the sole author, then he might have had the freedom to inject more objectivity into the discussion that really needs more balance, as discussed below.

What is an "aerotropolis?" The definition is made clear, but not until page 174. "An Aerotropolis is basically an airport-integrated region, extending as far as sixty miles from the inner clusters of hotels, offices, distribution and logistics facilities... the airport itself is really the nucleus of a range of `New Economy' functions," with the ultimate aim of bolstering the city's competiveness, job creation, and quality of life." Further, "it can be boiled down to three words: speed, speed, and speed." Speed gives us competitive advantages on a global scale. Therefore, the airport should be the center of any city, with all logistics, transportation facilities, warehouses, etc. serving the same function: logistical speed. The authors' message is reinforced a hundred times throughout the book. Nations, states, cities or corporations who don't adapt will be destroyed by speedier competitors. This is because "individual companies no longer compete: their entire supply chains do." Along with such supply chains come companies, jobs, economic develop and... entire cities. The authors present a number of case studies to reinforce their point.

Absent any mitigating issues, there's nothing wrong with their ideas. Capitalism is all about exploiting inefficiencies that others fail to see while rewarding those who realize the greater efficiencies. Airports certainly contribute significantly towards that due to their role in the supply chain.

However, when capitalism exploits inefficiencies to the point of exploiting human, social, or political rights, or exploiting the environment, then we might engage in some discussion about trade-offs. The book brings up these conflicts but defaults back to the benefits from capitalism's efficiencies. For example, the book extols the methods taken by the Chinese, Indian, and Persian Gulf nations. "Taxation is minimal, labor is disposable, and decision making is instant and irrevocable. They demand highways, railways, and runways, paying in cash. They don't hesitate, don't explain or second-guess themselves, and aren't about to let their citizens stand in the way." (p. 193). This theme is repeated throughout the book: to maximize capitalistic efficiencies and compete globally, it seems that we should dispense with labor rights, property rights, and possibly even constitutional rights. "Remember what they (the Chinese) said about democracy? It just gets in the way. This is how Foster's dragon (an aerotropolis in China) was built in five years flat, at a cost of ten thousand flattened homes. Multiply that by a hundred, and you have the initial human cost of China's aerotropoli." Further, we have the outright admission that "The aerotropolis and authoritarians go hand in hand... It's no accident Kasarda has found early adopters in the Middle East and China, followed close behind by Asian nations with a legacy of military rule..."

This is pretty alarming. Should we sacrifice property rights, a central tenet of our country's foundation, for Fed Ex to be as efficient as possible? Should we sacrifice democracy itself to compete more efficiently on a global scale with our authoritarian competitors in China? Should the consumer take priority over the citizen? It would seem so, since citizens who protest are simply "NIMBY's" standing in the way of progress and contributing to the very inefficiencies the corporations want to wipe out. Are new jobs that an aerotropolis might produce worth the costs to the community in terms of lost property, rights, pollution and congestion? Should we sacrifice our quality of life for the jobs an Aerotropolis might produce? Or should we accept the proposition that a job itself IS our quality of life, no matter what the cost to the community in terms of pollution, congestion, noise, etc. and no matter what the quality of the job is? This book gets close enough to these questions to raise them but then fails to go down that path. Perhaps that's beyond the scope of the book, but for a work that so unapologetically praises the benefits of aerotropoli, it seems only proper to devote space to a consideration of the liabilities. The authors should take a more balanced approach, even if the assets produced by an Aerotropolis outweigh the liabilities in the end. Of course, authoritarian governments don't ask these questions. It's no wonder the Chinese believe democracy just gets in the way.

We need a more meaningful discussion that looks at how to optimize the good brought about by airports while also realistically evaluating the trade-offs and constraints.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instant Cities, Lasting Effects, March 1, 2011
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Greg Lindsay is one of the first writers to commit the resources to understanding the effect of air travel on urbanity. Despite all the talk about "Instant" cities and "just in time" delivery, over the past three years, he has clearly shown himself to be a tenacious, shoe-leather journalist, having traveled to the far corners of the world and interviewed countless dozens of high-, low- and no-ranking people who are designing the future by participating in the aerotropoli of the world. Mr. Lindsay's peregrinations actually prove the point of the book - even in a hyperconnected, instant world, where everything seems to be about applications for mobile devices, mobility itself - of "stuff" and of people - is the key to the economic viability of places. While there is plenty of well-supported number-crunching and research, it is the jet-lagged, drop-jawed wonder of the narration that carries the reader through the book. From the searing desert of Dubai and its slave-labor towers in the sand, to the spinning-plates action of the packaging raceways at the UPS Worldport in Louisville, we get the sense that we are taking a tour of modern earthly wonders that we have only begun to comprehend. And yet, the effort to do so is both commendable and enjoyable.

If, on a future flight, you should ever chance to find yourself seated next to Mr. Lindsay (and considering how much he is traveling, the chances are good), you could find no better guide to Just What Exactly It Is We Are Doing. If Ryan Bingham is the Net-Age (yet-still-very-much-Jet-Age) Don Draper, Greg Lindsay is its Marshall McLuhan. If you see him, buy him a cocktail. Until you get that chance, at least buy his book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good storytelling, thin theory, November 30, 2011
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This is a strange book. For starters, the top-billing author, John Kassarda, didn't write a word, and indeed is mentioned or quoted only every several pages or so; even when he is, Lindsay (who actually wrote the book) seems to often cast subtle doubt on Kassarda's theories, as in the frequently-used "If Kassarda is right, ...". Then, while the book is chockfull of good anecdotal research, the evidence is awkwardly and haphazardly woven into a rather hazy overarching theory. One suspects that Linsday and the editors came to realize that but it was too late to chuck Kassarda and his brand from the cover.

Linsday is a journalist, and the book reads like an extended magazine piece. Breezy, well-crafted prose dotted with abundant statistics and meant-to-impress comparisons ("the up-front costs for infrastructure would start at $33 billion, more than the US originally earmarked for the reconstruction of Iraq"; Hainan is "the size of Belgium with the climate of Hawaii"; Beijing's new terminal "...could accommodate all of Heathrow's five terminals, with enough room left for a sixth") help make this an easy in-flight read. With an apparent rush to print, fact-checking was clearly back in coach while storytelling sat secure in the cockpit behind the armored door. For example, Lindsay contrasts America's mere 9 cities with population greater than 1 million with China's 125-150 such cities. The fact is, the Chinese draw municipal boundaries around entire metropolitan areas, and even what would be considered whole states (as is the case with Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing). Measured that way, the U.S. has 51 metropolitan areas with over 1 million inhabitants. China still has many more, but the drama is a bit deflated.

There are quite a few gaping holes in Kassarda's hypotheses. First of all, competitiveness of cities and regions is a function of many things beyond a good airport and a sprawling "aerotropolis". Seattle is in many ways more innovative and successful than Memphis, or for that matter Atlanta, despite having no "aerotropolis" and pretty weak air connectivity. And the world's most competitive and successful cities - New York, London, Tokyo - boast airports which at best can be described as functional, and no "aerotropoli" at all. There is little evidence that these cities are declining as a result.

In another omission, Kassarda and Lindsay fail to account for the fact that the majority of global trade, by far, is carried on water, and for obvious commercial reasons always will be. The rise of the Pearl River Delta, which Lindsay talks about at length, has much more to do with ports than airports.

Also curiously missing from the story are the airlines. No matter how good the hardware, airline networks are the software, and if airlines decide they cannot fly commercially to a city, or can no longer profitably operate a hub there, they will stop doing so, as half-empty airports terminals from Pittsburgh to Zhuhai illustrate. Even for cargo, it's pretty much a zero-sum game: not every city can be a cargo hub, as Subic Bay in the Philippines painfully learned when FedEx decamped to Guangzhou. For Kassarda, who has built a thriving consulting business advising governments and municipalities to build bigger airports and "airport cities", this trail of airport white elephants may be an inconvenient truth.

In the end, Kassarda's theory seems to boil down a couple of simple assertions: a good airport with good connectivity makes a city more competitive; some cities, by allocating large amounts of land near airports, may develop successful airport-related industries which benefit from the speed of aviation. Pretty trivial stuff, and hardly "the way we'll live next" as the cover bombastically proclaims.

Then there is the strange, retro-jet-age exuberance of it all. Anyone who actually flies a lot, like myself, must have read with a big chuckle Lindsay's enthusiastic closing account of his day trip to Chicago for a ballgame as a harbinger of things to come: "Today, it's opening day at Wrigley, and tomorrow it will be spring break for Chinese students in Hong Kong, Iranian reunions in Dubai, and breadwinners flying home on weekends to Mumbai." Environmental concerns aside, why would anyone want to spend 40 hours of their spring break on a plane (presumably in coach)?

Still, the book is an entertaining and often insightful read on the theme of globalization, with its most fascinating chapters (for example, on the flower trade and on medical tourism) offering original and sometimes provocative takes on issues much larger than air travel and "airport cities", like global supply chains, sustainability, and the future of health care in America.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful analysis into a key enabler of economic development, March 1, 2011
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Aerotropolis presents a compelling vision of the 21st century airport as a modern-day naval port - an enabler of economic development for the surrounding area, a magnet for population, and a key driver of global competitiveness. The book is crisply written, with clear arguments and analysis that work toward a central point - if we're unable to shift our vision of an airport away from a clunky, ill-conceived, outgrown, down at the heels, congested, necessary evil that should never be expanded beyond current footprint, toward the vision of an airport as being symbiotically linked with the wealth, health, and influence of a city, we will miss a key growth opportunity over the next 50+ years.

Of course it's easier to build an "Aerotropolis" from scratch, or in a regulatory environment where eminent domain can be enforced with an army - but maybe this book will help spur conversations in the US/EU about how we're going to balance staying competitive with retaining the character & scale of our cities.

Highly recommend.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Modern world of hub airports and the cities they foster, March 7, 2011
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Alan Engel (Tsukuba, Japan) - See all my reviews
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An editor could have improved this tremendously by erasing half the words. After the g_d-awful blare of the introduction and first chapter, this book settles into a style that allows the reader to read and think at the same time.

Aerotropolis tells of several major airport hubs starting with LAX, going through Dulles, O'Hare, Denver International, Dallas Fort Worth, Memphis, Louisville, Detroit Wayne County, Schipol, and Bangkok. The tales are of how these airports integrated with their surroundings - sometimes with planning, many times without. For example, it contrasts accidental effects around Memphis (Fedex) with the deliberate planned effects around Louisville (UPS).

This is a book for laypersons who want to hear the people side of the stories more than the engineering side. There is plenty of the latter but no charts, graphs or maps. The stories carry the book.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Peak Whale to Cool Chain and beyond, March 3, 2011
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Despite its futurist subtitle, "Aerotropolis" is not an exercise in speculation on the state of mid-21st century existence as projected from John Kasarda's concept of planned urban-airport complexes. Greg Lindsay has instead created a globe-trotting investigative report surveying the existing evidence which supports his co-author's theories and demonstrates both the need for intelligent air infrastructure development and the associated economic consequences.

Lindsay has structured the book, generally with each chapter grouped around a particular thematic and geographic focus, such that the "aerotropolis" concept is accessibly illustrated, even to American readers for whom urban airports are primarily associated with traffic congestion and noise pollution. By introducing the planning failures like LAX, followed by precursors in DFW and Memphis, before moving on to fully realized installations such as Dubai, Lindsay has provided meaningful comparators that provide strong rationales for the evolution of the aerotropolis as a critical element in the global economy. Additionally, the economic consequences of both well-executed aerotropoli and poorly planned city-airport combinations are given life by Lindsay's exceptional imagery, which is some of the best encountered in books of this genre.

The aerotropolis concept mandates a significant restructuring of the current urban life style, particularly in developed nations such as the United States and in Europe. Also, to date, the creation of aerotropolis complexes has most tangibly been embraced by authoritarian states. While Lindsay does not delve into the sociopolitical implications presented by either of these observations, in "Aerotropolis" he has constructed a solid foundation for future analysis of a topic hitherto unexplored in popular economic literature.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Innacuracies, May 16, 2013
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Miguel Mujica (Mexico D.F., distrito federal Mexico) - See all my reviews
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I enjoyed really much the book but in certain moment i got a little bit dissapointed. They present some innacuracies about the data of MExico City which made doubt of the rest of the information.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe the way some of us will live, November 15, 2012
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las cosas (Ajijic-San Francisco) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Aerotropolis: The Way We'll Live Next (Hardcover)
John Kasarda is listed as the primary author, which is odd, because the book reads as Greg Lindsay's fawning explication of Kasarda's overarching theme, that international airports will determine the economy and even the very existence of 21st century cities. This is a very straightforward theory that could be explained to the general reader in a magazine article. Examples of recent airports in places like India, the Emirates and particularly China well illustrate the point. But this book simply piles it on. A long list of new airports and how these explain the increasing dominance of aerotroplises.

Oddly Kasarda keeps popping up in the examples as a guru on the whole subject. Yes, I understand that he is a prominent advocate of this idea and coined the phrase. But every time he appears it is as though a drum role and spotlight follow our hero.

Why do people need to simplify complex systems? All economic development depends on the availability of infrastructure. Obviously. And over the centuries the list of available, and necessary, infrastructure has evolved. Obviously in the early 21st century that includes international airports. The only unusual argument made in this book is the exact importance of this new infrastructure. The book argues, endlessly, that it is the sine que non of development. With a big international airport, you win the economic development master game. Without one, you're toast. Come on, life and development is never that simple.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It is not true, October 9, 2013
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Manoel Motta (rio de janeiro ,brasil) - See all my reviews
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In a world marked by the growth of speed the future of the cities seems not very different from the present. The time of Concorde is over. Without supersonic transportation the thesis of this book is weak.
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Aerotropolis: The Way We'll Live Next
Aerotropolis: The Way We'll Live Next by Greg Lindsay (Hardcover - March 1, 2011)
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