From Publishers Weekly
In this superbly probing book, investigative reporter Neuwirth relates the struggles and successes of some of the world's most resourceful poor people, among the one billion urban squatters in countries like Brazil, India, Kenya and Turkey. Having lived alongside them in these four countries and thus gained firsthand knowledge of their daily lives, Neuwirth is able to dismantle many common preconceptions about the so-called slums in which they live. The vast, bustling favela of Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro, for example, has distinct neighborhoods, apartments for rent, dance parties in the street and local entrepreneurs, as well as drug lords and gangs. In Nairobi's Kibera, many squatters have white-collar jobs, yet lack the income to rent more than a simple mud hut. Clarifying local legal considerations and housing policy city by city, Neuwirth closely attends to the characters, historical particularities and human potential of the squatter communities he encounters. In his concluding chapters, he pulls back to address the U.N.'s role in ameliorating squatters' problems and polarizing notions of property ownership, among other issues. Pointing out that many major cities were founded on squatter-style neighborhoods, Neuwirth treats readers to some fascinating historical case studies in London and New York. Compelling, thought-provoking and written with laconic grace, Neuwirth's study is essential reading for anyone interested in global urban affairs. B&w photos.
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'Neuwirth gets the lowdown on the low life by becoming a resident of four of the most happening squatopolises: the thriving extralegal pockets of Istanbul, Mumbai, Nairobi, and Rio. His ghetto epiphanies include impeccable civility, self-organizing local governments, bustling economies, modest crime rates, and squatter millionaires.' - Josh McHugh,Wired
'Urban squatters - families that risk the wrath of governments and property owners by building dwellings on land they don't own - represent one out of every ten people on the planet. Squatters create complex local economies with high rises, shopping strips, banks, and self-government in their search for decent places to live. This book reveals squatter communities from Rio to Bombay that give a glimpse into our urban future and show new visions of what constitutes property and community.' - architecture week
'Shadow Cities is at its best shining an investigative lens into areas of urban life that have seldom been described before. It is a wonderful story of the vitality and creativity of ordinary people who have managed to survive and sometimes even prosper in the face of government indifference if not hostility.' - Robert H. Nelson, a professor at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy; Reason Magazine
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'[A] superbly probing book...Compelling, thought-provoking and written with laconic grace, Neuwirth's study is essential reading for anyone interested in global urban affairs.' -Publisher's Weekly