From Publishers Weekly
In his often captivating treatise on the city, Reader (Pyramids of Life
) squelches the notion that country living is preferable to urban living, explaining in detail how cities actually maintain civilization and have done so since Sumerian times. More than half the world's population now lives in cities, compared with less than 10% in the 1700s. Cities provide more economic opportunities, and more intellectual and social stimulation than nonurban life. But the demands of their populations must be met from outside the city itself. (Cities cover only about 2% of the world's land mass, but require nearly three-quarters of its resources.) Thus, posits Reader, cities will need to improve for the quality of life of their inhabitants to improve—and to sustain themselves without damaging the rest of the planet with their heavy ecological footprints. He explores cities' historical and anthropological elements, focusing particularly on Europe and Africa (one of the book's flaws is the short shrift given to Asia, where overcrowding is phenomenal). Although heavy on statistics, this thorough and readable look at urban growth will interest historians, anthropologists, sociologists and urban dwellers. Illus.
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“A superb historical account of the places in which most of us either live or will live.”
–Condé Nast Traveller