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Aerotropolis: The Way We'll Live Next Hardcover – March 1, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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About the Author

John D. Kasarda , a professor at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, has advised countries, cities, and companies about the aerotropolis and its implications. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Greg Lindsay has written for Time, BusinessWeek, and Fast Company. For one story he traveled around the world by airplane for three weeks, never leaving the airport while on the ground. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.


"The closest thing to a real-world vision to rival that of [H. G.] Wells... a mind-expanding ride that reminds us, once again, that humanity needs no apocalypse to reinvent itself." --Thomas P.M. Barnett, World Politics Review

“The days when we built our airports around cities now seem distant; in the new, mobile century, we build our cities around airports . . . Cities are becoming like airports--places to leave from more than to live in. I'd always sensed this, but it came home to me with almost shocking immediacy when I was reading the dazzling new book Aerotropolis. One of its authors, John F. Kasarda, is a business professor in North Carolina who flies from Amsterdam to Seoul preaching the gospel of building homes and businesses near airports. Co-author Greg Lindsay is a journalist who knows how to make Kasarda's research racy while raising questions about the cost of living in midair . . . Aerotropolis points out that we can still address the oldest needs but in new and liberating ways.” ―Pico Iyer, Time

I'd wager that the notion [of the aerotropolis] is about to occupy a little more real estate in the popular imagination. This book will no doubt do for airport cities what Joel Garreau and his "Edge City" did for suburban office parks and shopping malls two decades ago: It will relocate the center . . . The prospect sketched out in Aerotropolis--while slightly thrilling, as tectonic shifts often are--feels about as dispiriting as those warehouse zones clustered near the ends of runways. And it's made all the more so by the realization that the authors are undoubtedly right.” ―Wayne Curtis, Wall Street Journal

“In Aerotropolis, John Kasarda of the University of North Carolina and his co-author, Greg Lindsay, convincingly put the airport at the centre of modern urban life.” ―The Economist

“To find yourself at La Guardia Airport, that repository of bad food, dim lighting, unsettlingly indistinct odors and too-short runways, is to be inclined toward embracing John D. Kasarda and Greg Lindsay and all they have to say about the future of travel and modern life. Kasarda, a professor in the business school at the University of North Carolina who has consulted with four White House administrations and numerous cities and governments, believes that something very different from La Guardia is transforming our world . . . Kasarda's theories are presented in the ambitious Aerotropolis: The Way We'll Live Next, which is written by [Greg] Lindsay, who as the journalist onboard fulfills the role of eager messenger . . . [He] flies around the world, conducting interviews, seeking evidence, translating Kasarda's technical jargon into a lively if sometimes flawed work of pop behavioral economics . . . Aerotropolis offers intriguing arguments.” ―Michael Powell, The New York Times Book Review

“An odd, fascinating new book… an enthralling and only intermittently dogmatic tour of some of the gigantic, no-context sites that globalization has created, such as the all-night flower auction in Amsterdam that gets roses from Kenya to Chicago before they've wilted, the FoxConn factory in China where iPods and iPhones are made, and the mega-hospital Bumrungrad in Bangkok, which performs cut-rate major surgery on the uninsured from all over the world.” ―Nicholas Lemann, The New Yorker

“Fascinating and important work . . . Aerotropolis follows in the tradition of works such as Edge City (1992) that blend jargon-free scholarship with shoe-leather reporting to tell readers why they're living and working as they are . . . That Kasarda and Lindsay are onto something big seems beyond dispute.” ―Paul M. Barrett, Bloomberg Businessweek

“An essential guide to the twenty-first century.” ―Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)

“Thanks to the manifold effects of modern aviation, earth and sky are merging in our world faster and more thoroughly than most people know. But you won't be most people after reading Aerotropolis. Throw out your old atlas. The new version is here.” ―Walter Kirn, author of Up in the Air

“A fascinating window into the complex emergent urban future. This book is an extremely sophisticated, often devastatingly witty and ironic interpretation of what is possible over the next two decades. It is not science fiction. It is science and technology in action. The authors have one foot firmly planted in the possible and foreseeable.” ―Saskia Sassen, Professor, Columbia University, and author of Territory, Authority, Rights

Aerotropolis presents a radical, futuristic vision of a world where we build our cities around airports rather than the reverse. This book ties together urbanism, global economics, international relations, sociology, and insights from adventures in places that aren't even on the map yet to present a plausible new paradigm for understanding how we relate to the skies. Perhaps the most compelling book on globalization in years.” ―Parag Khanna, Senior Fellow, New America Foundation, and author of How to Run the World

“Very few people realize how profoundly air transport is changing our cities, our economies, our social systems, and our systems of governance. If you want to be way ahead of the curve in understanding one of the most important drivers of change for the twenty-first century, read this book.” ―Paul Romer, Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research

Aerotropolis redraws the world map, using air routes to trace the new connections and competition between mega-regions that will shape the geography of the Great Reset. This lively, thought-provoking book is a must-read for anyone interested in how and where we will live and work in a truly global era.” ―Richard Florida, director of the Martin Prosperity Institute, University of Toronto, and author of The Great Reset

Aerotropolis comprehensively explains the enormous effects modern aviation has on cities and countries around the world. It is a unique resource.” ―Frederick W. Smith, Chairman and CEO, FedEx Corporation


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374100195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374100193
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.6 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #995,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book presents an interesting thesis about the economic engine that newer airports can become. It also offers enough cautionary tales to ensure that readers don't come away thinking that concrete and a grader can buy happiness. Unfortunately, this book needed fact-checking and more thorough editing. It lacks coherent organization. With it, the book could sustain the loss of about one-third of its pages, which seem terribly redundant. The principal author intermitently adopts a first-person voice especially when retelling how he gathered his information, while the supposed lead author, Kasarda, is quoted in the second person as if he is an oracle on this topic. At times, the book seems a thinly veiled promotional tool for Kasarda's airport consultancy. There were several errors I bumped into, the most notable was the repeated misspelling of the late real estate developer Trammell Crow's name. A Google-equipped fact-checker could have solved thus problem. It made me wonder what else wasn't quite on point. At the end of the day, you've got a couple Atlantic monthly length pieces in hardcover.
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The book challenges us with its approach to the subject matter. It amounts to a 400+ page brochure about John Kasarda's work as a business consultant. He's obviously very bright and thoughtful, and Greg Lindsay writes articulately. However the book's overall style seems unique and well, uncomfortable. Lindsay is writing about Kasarda in the third person, discussing "Kasarda's plans" etc. Yet Kasarda is a co-author, suggesting a first person discussion, because the book is all about Kasarda's ideas guided by Kasarda's overall thoughts. Why didn't Kasarda write this himself? Or why didn't Lindsay write the book about Kasarda? Had Lindsay been the sole author, then he might have had the freedom to inject more objectivity into the discussion that really needs more balance, as discussed below.

What is an "aerotropolis?" The definition is made clear, but not until page 174. "An Aerotropolis is basically an airport-integrated region, extending as far as sixty miles from the inner clusters of hotels, offices, distribution and logistics facilities... the airport itself is really the nucleus of a range of `New Economy' functions," with the ultimate aim of bolstering the city's competiveness, job creation, and quality of life." Further, "it can be boiled down to three words: speed, speed, and speed." Speed gives us competitive advantages on a global scale. Therefore, the airport should be the center of any city, with all logistics, transportation facilities, warehouses, etc. serving the same function: logistical speed. The authors' message is reinforced a hundred times throughout the book. Nations, states, cities or corporations who don't adapt will be destroyed by speedier competitors. This is because "individual companies no longer compete: their entire supply chains do.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a strange book. For starters, the top-billing author, John Kassarda, didn't write a word, and indeed is mentioned or quoted only every several pages or so; even when he is, Lindsay (who actually wrote the book) seems to often cast subtle doubt on Kassarda's theories, as in the frequently-used "If Kassarda is right, ...". Then, while the book is chockfull of good anecdotal research, the evidence is awkwardly and haphazardly woven into a rather hazy overarching theory. One suspects that Linsday and the editors came to realize that but it was too late to chuck Kassarda and his brand from the cover.

Linsday is a journalist, and the book reads like an extended magazine piece. Breezy, well-crafted prose dotted with abundant statistics and meant-to-impress comparisons ("the up-front costs for infrastructure would start at $33 billion, more than the US originally earmarked for the reconstruction of Iraq"; Hainan is "the size of Belgium with the climate of Hawaii"; Beijing's new terminal "...could accommodate all of Heathrow's five terminals, with enough room left for a sixth") help make this an easy in-flight read. With an apparent rush to print, fact-checking was clearly back in coach while storytelling sat secure in the cockpit behind the armored door. For example, Lindsay contrasts America's mere 9 cities with population greater than 1 million with China's 125-150 such cities. The fact is, the Chinese draw municipal boundaries around entire metropolitan areas, and even what would be considered whole states (as is the case with Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing). Measured that way, the U.S. has 51 metropolitan areas with over 1 million inhabitants. China still has many more, but the drama is a bit deflated.

There are quite a few gaping holes in Kassarda's hypotheses.
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Greg Lindsay is one of the first writers to commit the resources to understanding the effect of air travel on urbanity. Despite all the talk about "Instant" cities and "just in time" delivery, over the past three years, he has clearly shown himself to be a tenacious, shoe-leather journalist, having traveled to the far corners of the world and interviewed countless dozens of high-, low- and no-ranking people who are designing the future by participating in the aerotropoli of the world. Mr. Lindsay's peregrinations actually prove the point of the book - even in a hyperconnected, instant world, where everything seems to be about applications for mobile devices, mobility itself - of "stuff" and of people - is the key to the economic viability of places. While there is plenty of well-supported number-crunching and research, it is the jet-lagged, drop-jawed wonder of the narration that carries the reader through the book. From the searing desert of Dubai and its slave-labor towers in the sand, to the spinning-plates action of the packaging raceways at the UPS Worldport in Louisville, we get the sense that we are taking a tour of modern earthly wonders that we have only begun to comprehend. And yet, the effort to do so is both commendable and enjoyable.

If, on a future flight, you should ever chance to find yourself seated next to Mr. Lindsay (and considering how much he is traveling, the chances are good), you could find no better guide to Just What Exactly It Is We Are Doing. If Ryan Bingham is the Net-Age (yet-still-very-much-Jet-Age) Don Draper, Greg Lindsay is its Marshall McLuhan. If you see him, buy him a cocktail. Until you get that chance, at least buy his book.
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