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If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities Hardcover

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If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities + The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy (Brookings Focus Book) + A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030016467X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300164671
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A provocative look at how cities can and do lead from the front in addressing the most pressing issues of our time."—Michael R. Bloomberg, 108th Mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg LP
(Michael R. Bloomberg)

“If you like cities you will love this wide-ranging book that captures the energy, excitement and importance of what is going on in the world's great urban centers.”—Fareed Zakaria, CNN
(Fareed Zakaria CNN)

“In an impassioned love letter to cities and their political leaders, Barber (Jihad vs. McWorld) celebrates the diversity and ferment that embody urban life.”—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

“A provocative, informative account of a different kind of globalization. Highly recommended reading for policymakers and other readers intrigued by forward-thinking forms of governance.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred review
(Kirkus Reviews)

". . . .Makes the intriguing, provocative, and counter-intuitive argument the. . . cities and the mayors who run them are the last best hope for a safer, more prosperous, and more just future. If Mayors Ruled The World is informative and imaginative.”—Glenn C. Altschuler, The Huffington Post
(Glenn C. Altschuler The Huffington Post)

"If you care about cities, read If Mayors Ruled the World.  It is the most important book on cities, their leadership and how they can make the world a better place to come along in years.  Ben Barber has written a tour de force."—Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class and The Great Reset
(Richard Florida)

"Political theorist Benjamin Barber's latest book is more than just theory. Networked governance by the world's cities is actually happening, and If Mayors Ruled the World is the book of the movement. Once again, Barber is ahead of the curve."—Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper

(John Hickenlooper)

“Barber argues. . .persuasively, that city governments are closer to their people than national ones and as such are better at winning the trust of citizens – though the same goes for rural forms of local government.”—Ben Rogers, Financial Times
(Ben Rogers Financial Times 2013-11-09)

About the Author

Benjamin R. Barber is senior research scholar at the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the Graduate Center, the City University of New York. He is also president and founder of the Interdependence Movement and the author of seventeen books, including Jihad vs. McWorld and Strong Democracy. He lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Enjolras TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Benjamin Barber hits upon a very interesting and potentially revolutionary idea in his latest book, "If Mayors Ruled the World." Barber argues that cities seem to provide better governance than most national governance and therefore we should look more to mayors to solve governance challenges in the future.

Unfortunately, I don't think this book makes his case all that well. Upon first reading the book, it's clear Barber is enthusiastic about his idea. In fact, if anything, he's so enthusiastic that he quickly becomes melodramatic. The book is filled with platitudes and unmeasured praise for cities with hardly any nuance mixed in (e.g., "cities can save the world!", "cities can be occupied and sacked, but their liberties cannot be annulled as long as their citizens breathe.", etc.).

The problem is that Barber rushes through his argument with such platitudes rather than providing careful and reasoned arguments and addressing even basic counterarguments. For example, one of the reasons why nation-states seem unable to act is because they have to deal with a much more diverse set of interests over a larger territory and population than most mayors. This becomes clear when Barber praises Bloomberg and other mayors for liberal policies, and then lambasts anybody who disagrees (for the record, I agree with much of Bloomberg's policies and politics, but also try to respect that people with whom I disagree might have legitimate reasons for doing so). You'll find few solutions for how to deal with mayors who engage in corruption or violate the rights of their citizens.

Barber is also quite selective in his use of evidence.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Griot Lover on December 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You cannot act an idea...but an idea can motivate a great deal of action. Dr. Barber has shed light on a Big Idea - Interdependence - which he titled a yearly event founded by himself and others in the wake of 9/11: Interdependence Day.


Now he takes another step in asking an essential question in his new work, If Mayors Ruled The World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities, and that question is whether or not the nation/state is obsolete and therefore requiring our global society to pay attention to a new way of thinking, speaking and doing when it comes to global governance.

Barber argues that the nation/state paradigm IS obsolete. Not only are new ways of addressing its demise emerging in accordance within the "productive struggle" of democracy throughout the world but also as a result of city-based, "glocal", collaboration among mega cities.

Cities that, no matter your allegiance, bias or loyalties (all with distinct borders of one kind or another) have no time to be confused about the "rules" of nation/states because in cities sewers need to run, fires need to be put out, traffic jams need to be unclogged and people need to feel safe in an increasingly complex and insecure world and any number of problems need to be solved "on-the-spot" as they do present themselves in myriad ways that demand immediate resolution.

Nation/states can hem and haw; posture and pose, emit a lot of sound and fury signifying either nothing or a great deal of confusion...or most deadly...nurture a culture of fear, threat and attack throughout the land.

Cities have to DEAL with life on life's terms and their mayors do too.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jim Crooks on January 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Barber, in his almost prophetic book, sees powerful big city mayors from around the world tackling problems of climate change, terrorism, public health and governance through pragmatic means while politicians on the national and global levels appear stuck in ideological stalemates. His solution is a world parliament of mayors selected on a rotating basis to work together problem solving the issues of common concern. Their efforts offer a hope whether existing stalemates in the US, Europe, Middle East and elsewhere right now do not. Barber's knowledge of the world, our history and our issues is remarkable. His solutions, unfortunately, appear naive in expecting consensus and cooperation. His model is the American Articles of Confederation which did not work in the 18th century. I doubt it could work in the 21st. Yet he has a point, and the early stages of global urban cooperation on issues is a good sign that something more can happen than the current status quo.
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