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Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West Paperback – May 17, 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
In building his case Cronon presents some excellent case studies of the Rail+Canal, wheat, forestry and meat packing industries in Chicago, and how they helped to turn the city into a first-rank metropolitan centre. Chapter #3 on wheat is especially interesting as Cronon describes how the Board of Trade revolutionized the exchange of grain by turning the physical crop into an abstract commodity that could be easily traded amongst merchants, traders and farmers. Central to this was of course the implementation of a standardized grading system.
A final note, one of the more intriguing aspects of the book was Cronon's use of the terms "first" and "second nature". These are two concepts which he explains in the preface are derived from Hegelian and Marxist interpretations of nature - yet he does not give the reader too much more of an insight.Read more ›
First of all, potential readers should be aware that this is an economic history. It follows flows of goods and capital rather than following the lives and careers of the men and women of Chicago. I knew what to expect, but for people looking for a more standard history of Chicago this may make Nature's Metropolis difficult to engage.
I really enjoyed reading the book. It stretched my understanding of the economic growth of cities and raised issues that I had not considered about the role of the city *in* nature (not as opposed to nature). The examination of elements that made Chicago into both a city and The City was fascinating. The chapters tracing grain, lumber and meat as goods were clearly written and underscored the central theses.
I guess it goes without saying that Nature's Metropolis is far from a light read, but that does not make it less rewarding. As someone who does not have a background in history, I only longingly wished that the bibliography had been annotated to help support further reading.
This is not a book that is easily categorized, but I find it comparable to Andrew Lees' Cities Perceived: Urban Society in European and American Thought, 1820-1940, for they both offer insight on the history and development of what falls between the frontier and city: suburbia! I think it would be a great text to bring into the classroom, as it offers much more than you typical history book and provides an adequate introduction to America's former economy with an emphasis on the social forces involved.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The content appears to be excellent. The typeface size in the paperback version is however awful -- smallest I have ever seen in a trade paper back. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Donald F. Brosnan
Excellent investigation into how the markets in Chicago shaped the environment of the West. The writing is just a bit repetitive at times.Published 6 months ago by Stephen Breton
It's an interesting story of real events. It's worth reading for what it says about the forces driving development in the 19th century.Published 8 months ago by Richard Mohs
I grew up in Chicago. Nature's Metropolis told me so much about my home town that I never heard about while I was living there. It is
a fascinating book.
The city of Chicago inhabits a unique location straddling several natural divides: between the watersheds of Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River; between vast grasslands on the... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Taylor rose
I majored in history in college so I have read a few history books. This is by far the best history book I have ever read. I cannot recommend this book enough.Published 18 months ago by Andrew M.