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Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History Is Reshaping Our World Paperback – April 3, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a globe-trotting narrative alive with on-the-ground reportage, journalist Saunders offers a cautionary but essentially optimistic perspective on global urbanization. He concentrates on the slums and satellite communities that act as portals from villages to cities and, in turn, revitalize village economies. Policy makers misunderstand at their peril these "arrival cities"—London's heavily Bangladeshi Tower Hamlets, Brazil's favelas, China's Shenzhen. Citing the statistical relationship between urbanization and falling poverty rates, as well as historical precedents like Paris ("the first great arrival city of the modern world"), Saunders insists urban migration means improvement overall, and that the arrival city serves as a springboard for the integration of new populations. While the picture of urbanization veers from gloomier forecasts by analysts like Mike Davis (Planet of Slums), it does so by eschewing direct questioning of the global economic system driving much of this migration. Barely addressed are food, energy, and water shortages, or the fact that healthy city growth requires preservation of surrounding ecosystems on which cities habitually wreak havoc. Saunders's narrative, however, does plead for rational and humane planning within global capitalism to ensure that arrival cities fulfill their purpose and achieve their potential. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“A game changer. . . . Mightily researched, lofty and humane, Arrival City is packed with salient detail and could hardly be more timely.”
The New York Times

Arrival City presents an optimistic and humane view of global urbanization. Let’s hope urban planners and politicians pay attention.” 
The Wall Street Journal

“With the voice of a seasoned reporter, Saunders writes compelling, firsthand narratives describing the challenges and triumphs of migrant families from across the globe.”
The San Francisco Chronicle
Arrival City asks that we take a closer look at urbanization before its mismanagement is further mistaken for the thing itself, and to recognize that a citified future is not necessarily a doomed one.”

“One of the year’s most engaging and important works of nonfiction.”
The Independent (London)
“A timely contribution to the discourse on global cities. . . . Saunders offers a readable, immediate social history.”
The Globe and Mail
“A brisk world tour of enormous urban-fringe neighborhoods populated by people who have left the countryside. . . . Perhaps because Saunders is a journalist who isn’t selling his advice, his version of the city is . . . more persuasive.”
The New Yorker
“One does not need to be a cynic, alas, to suspect that cities and nations may not apply their best policies to their worst neighborhoods. But for those who are wise enough to try, Saunders has written the manual.”
“Skilled in both colourful reportage and sustaining a good argument, [Saunders] provides a badly needed progressive and optimistic narrative about our future. . . . This may be the best popular book on cities since Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities. . . . Few books can make rationalists feel optimistic and empowered for the future. [Arrival City] does.”
The Guardian (London)
“Saunders’s approach is through anecdotes and vignettes, but . . . they cumulate into a persuasive whole. . . . Saunders’s practical suggestions for helping immigrants . . . are sure to attract attention. . . . [A] highly readable book.”
Financial Times
“A masterpiece of reporting, one of the most valuable and lucid works on public policy published anywhere in years.”
Edmonton Journal
“Important. . . . Saunders’s greatest strength lies in the global breadth of his reportage. . . . His evocative descriptions . . . transform a complex, serious subject into a page-turning read.”
Literary Review
“A broadly researched, passionate and portentous call for a new way to look at the experience of migrants. It is essential reading . . . for all who look at the future of cities with a mix of hope and fear.”
Winnipeg Free Press
“[An] incisive study of worldwide rural-to-urban migration, its complex social mechanisms and the consequences of institutional neglect. . . . An essential work for those who pay attention to the effects of globalization—which is, or at least should be, nearly everyone.”
Kirkus Reviews
“Doug Saunders is neither a glum pessimist nor a glib optimist and Arrival City will not please closed minds. But this provocative, disturbing, and exhilarating book is a delight for thoughtful readers. Indeed, it is essential. Migration is reshaping the world and, as Saunders demonstrates, the choices we make today will determine whether it brings prosperity or catastrophe tomorrow.”
—Dan Gardner, author of The Science of Fear
Arrival City is scarier than a dark urban fantasy and more gritty than the bottom of a demographer’s coffee cup. It’s also highly topical, as population growth and immigration are subjects of heated debate worldwide.”
Daily Mercury


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307388565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307388568
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #743,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Doug Saunders is a Canadian-British author and journalist. He is the author of the book Arrival City (2011) and the London-based European bureau chief for The Globe and Mail. He writes a weekly column devoted to the larger themes and intellectual concepts behind international news, and has won the National Newspaper Award, Canada's counterpart to the Pulitzer Prize, on four occasions.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By GrannieB on April 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an important book. It will broaden your view of what is happening in the world today as millions of people set out to make new lives in new lands.

Almost everyone in the world is being affected, in some way, by this movement. They may live where new people are arriving. They may be the ones arriving. Or, perhaps, they are ones left behind, but benefitting from funds sent back.

Some of these relocations are successful. Others fail dismally. It is important that these inevitable movements of people do succeed because it influences the well being of everyone in a city, region, country, or, even, the world. Saunders takes a look at successes and failures over time and points out the important differences. There is a lot to be learned here.

However, I was very disappointed in the writing style. You would expect a respected journalist to write with clarity and a crisp lively style. Instead Saunders is prone to long, convoluted, run-on sentences that often take a careful parsing to find what he really intends to say. To compound matters, the huge numbers of asides, included in parenthesis, are nearly as complex as the rest of their sentence.

So, be forewarned. This book is definitely worth reading, but be prepared to work hard to get the valuable information it has to offer.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By George Fulmore on July 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is very good book, full of provocative information and sound advice. But it could have been much better. There is an organization problem. There are too many vignettes, too many arrival city examples, and too much detail to make the points the author wants to make. This leads to a great deal of duplication of information, especially when a point has already been made by an earlier example that is as good as or better than the new one. This organizational problem makes the book harder to read than it should be. At times, some of the detail gets tedious.

The good news is that the "meat" in the book makes reading it well worth reading.

The author's purpose is to tell us all about "arrival cities," their characteristics, how they can be made to work and how they can lead to failure. He also wants to give us examples of these communities in various places around the world. We get numerous detailed stories of people who move from a village to its related city. Arrival cities have the following characteristics:

* There is a communications network between the village(s) and the destination city.
* This network provides housing, job leads, community and security in the city.
* Those who move to the city send money back to the village to improve things there.
* Successful arrival cities allow a path to citizenship for foreigners, the possibility of owning a home, the opportunity to open a business and to get loans, and a path to the middle class, if not for the original immigrants, then for their offspring.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Cyrus Webb TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Some may consider it progression, but in author Doug Saunder's book ARRIVAL CITY we are asked to look at how our world is changing around us---and the role we are all playing in it whether we realize it or not.

As the population grows and people leave one type of life for another, it definitely affects the way the world looks as well as how we are able to deal with others. Saunders takes us into cultures and lands where we might not think we have any connection, and then he shows us how what happens halfway around the world does affect our lifestyle here.

You have only to look at the headlines of the day to see it to be true. Saunders' book is playing out right in front of us, and through his research we can better understand it and adapt rather than be left in the dark.

One thing that struck me is something that is universal: We are all busy, going about our lives, and sometimes we know so little about our very own surroundings. Forget about another country. To some, there own city is foreign to them. Looking at it through the lenses of Saunder's work, we can see that there are really more things that connect us than divide us.

ARRIVAL CITY isn't a book you will just skim through and put away. This is one you will be talking about for quite some time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DTE on July 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I would recommend this book for people interested in Urban Geography, the developing world, assimilation of immigrants, and/or what the future holds for the world. I would also say it should be a must-read for virtually any government official at any governmental level anywhere in the world. (It would be interesting to know what percentage of these people actually read books and articles in an attempt to do their jobs better)

What I enjoyed about it specifically
- It had a main term "arrival city" and the author explains and illustrates why these places are so important. Arrival cities are places where people(or really more often families) can transition their lives so that in a generation or two, despite early hardships, their rural-to-urban migration has transformed their lives from simple survival to ones of relative comfort. If this is not how the area is functioning, it is not an arrival city, it is just a slum or ethnic enclave that is ultimately a failure both for its residents, and for that society as a whole.
- The author examines these places not just to show the reader the pains of poverty, but to really try and discover why some of them "work" while others don't. Mainly this revolves around having government policies that accept the reality of rapid urbanization and looking to what policies have worked well elsewhere. The author does well at constructing an argument for how to best do this (which most of the arrival city residents he spoke with would agree)- basically give these people some basic economic and political rights, relax some rules like land zoning, and these folks will pull themselves up.
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