Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
The City: A Global History (Modern Library Chronicles) Paperback – October 10, 2006
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
It seems a truism that a city needs some "socially important myths" to hold together large diverse groups of people. City planners today, according to Kotkin, do not take into account the sacredness of a place. How can they? Can you imagine a city planner calling for a more Christian city? or a more Islamic or Jewish city? or a more multiculural city? In these secular times, the latter is about the only thing they can attempt. But Kotkin considers multiculuralism a form of separatism. I say let the sacredness arise from the cultural ideas and pracitices of the citzens, not from the city planning office.
That a city needs security and a vibrant business community seems a truism so true that I won't belabor the point here.
The most interesting point made in the book concerns the impact of technology - especially telecommunications - on cities. For the first time in history global megacities no longer have the advantage of size and scale. With computers and telecommunications, businesses can now process and transmit information anywhere - the periphery of the urban centers, small towns, to places anywhere in the world. Moreover, businesses can locate anywhere in the world - anywhere they have skilled workers. The urban center is no longer necessary to operate a global business, in fact, it is no longer desirable.
The growth of the urban periphery and small towns as corporate centers has been called the rise of the "telecity.Read more ›
I should have been tipped off by the book's short length, but I only thought that Kotkin would therefore leave out a lot in favor of threading together an interesting thesis. Kotkin goes the other route, trying to stuff in as much as possible and therefore actually saying very little.
The author seemingly attempts to discuss every major city in the history of mankind. The bibliography starts on page 161 so there is very little room to do so.
With the chapters so short and divided so frequently, Kotkin could have gotten the same effect by asking a bunch of high school students to do a short (but admittedly erudite) summary of a major city. Put those together and you have this book.
Terribly disappointing for someone hoping for depth and substance.
As the author clearly states, this text was intended as an introductory guide rather than an analysis, and he very much succeeds in setting readers on the footpath of further study. While it is true that every subject is handled on a superficial level, what Kotkin chose to discuss was well-distilled and demonstrates his vast knowledge of the field. He supplies readers with a chronology and, more importantly, a suggested reading list. Anyone interested in approaching urban history should begin with this book.
Fine: it's a short book, a mere 160 pp of text, plus almost 40 pp of notes (a good thing), and the 7 pp of suggested readings. I suppose the Modern Library's "Chronicles" format - "featuring the world's great historians on the world's great subjects," all at less than 200 pp - should have tipped me off, but there was the offsetting kudos of Witold Rybczynski: "A compelling and original synthesis that belongs on the urbanist's bookshelf with Lewis Mumford, Peter Hall, and Fernand Braudel." Yes, Prof. Rybczynski, I suppose so, but perhaps only as the first book to pull off that shelf for kindling when the cabin grows cold. Kotkin really doesn't deserve this bonbon from Rybczynski; nor does he belong in this seminal company. His book doesn't seem to contain much that's original; it seems mostly derived from the insights of others. (I suppose that's why it's a "synthesis.") For the most part, much of it - and surely its central thesis that cities are built on sacred, security, or commercial foundations - is in Mumford and Hall, much else, particularly on the rise of commercial cities, may be found in Braudel, and in the later chapters more contemporary writers like Daniel Bell, Saskia Sassen, Manuel Castells, Kenneth Jackson, and Joel Garreau, are among the many authorities who show up.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed reading it. The author is capable of taking the reader for a walk through history without emphasizing too much on a very specific stage of city development. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Fernando Gonzalez
Yep, as others have said, not so much a book as a series of thoughts linked by chapter headings. Maybe start with the last chapter and write the book from there . . .Published on June 25, 2013 by Wandering Lad
Comprehensive. Startlingly frank and fresh look at urban planning from a brilliant conservative thinker and planner who looks at the entire landscape instead of the typical narrow... Read morePublished on June 2, 2013 by Dean H. Becker
Needed this for my Urban Geography class - great book! Very informative! I like how it has an index in the back.Published on December 22, 2012 by Jill
It's a textbook for our class. It's worth reading to know US urban history. But Kotkin sometimes write arbitrarily and his not the guy urban planners would love.Published on November 29, 2012 by pan
This is a book that argues that all great cities must be sacred, safe and vibrant economically. The term "sacred" has been a major issue in the reviews, and I think rightfully so. Read morePublished on September 7, 2010 by S. Smith-Peter