From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Urban planning professor Campanella (of the University of North Carolina and Harvard's Graduate School of Design) presents an overview of today's China, which has recently grown so fast and so lavishly that its scope is hard to comprehend. The geography is vast, and so are statistics that now define it. With a huge rural-to-urban migration over the last quarter century, dozens of megacities-"the primary spatial forms of the new global economy"-have cropped up over natural and man-made obstacles, boasting a culture of skyscraper one-upsmanship, a passionate embrace of foreign architecture and sports (golf, skateboarding), a legion of theme parks featuring scale models of Chinese and world-famous landscapes (like the U.S. Capitol Building), and the relentless reinvention of ancient metropolises. Politics, capitalism, epic road-building, spiraling bridges and, now, pre-Olympic commotion mix with surprising effects; once-ubiquitous bicycles are replaced by automobiles; everywhere there is domicide, the destruction of long-time residences; and traditional Chinese culture in decline: "Even as Beijing erects singular architectural monuments to create a definitive identity for itself, it has largely rubbed out... what gave the city such unique color, richness, and character." A fascinating read, this current-events primer could very well be a crash course in the world's future.
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The Concrete Dragon
provides a critical overview of contemporary Chinese urbanization in light of both China's past as well as earlier episodes of rapid urban development elsewhere in the world especially that of the United States, a nation that itself once set global records for the speed and scale of its urban ambitions. -- Places Journal, May 2008
If you want to better understand the role China will play in the future, you might want to start with The Concrete Dragon: China's Urban Revolution and What It Means for the World
by Thomas J. Campanella. -- Worldchanging.net, July 30, 2008
Just in time for the Beijing Olympics, Thomas J. Campanella tackels what he calles 'the greatest building boom in human history': the creation of whole new cities throughout China, where superhighways, theme parks, and engineering projects light up the night sky. Campanella is an able guide to the dusty haze of China's ever-growing construction sites. -- Dwell, August 1, 2008
One of the most attention-grabbing and thought-provoking books on China I have read in a long time. -- David Frum's National Review, May 11, 2008
a powerful overview of China's huge building boom and its social and environmental consequences. -- The Washington Post, June 22, 2008