- Paperback: 657 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books (October 23, 1968)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0156180359
- ISBN-13: 978-0156180351
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 34 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects
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Lewis Mumford's massive historical study brings together a wide array of evidence--from the earliest group habitats to medieval towns to the modern centers of commerce (as well as dozens of black-and-white illustrations)--to show how the urban form has changed throughout human civilization. His tone is ultimately somewhat pessimistic: Mumford was deeply concerned with what he viewed as the dehumanizing aspects of the metropolitan trend, which he deemed "a world of professional illusionists and their credulous victims." (In another typically unrestrained criticism, he dubbed the Pentagon a Bronze Age monument to humanity's basest impulses, as well as an "effete and worthless baroque conceit.") Mumford hoped for a rediscovery of urban principles that emphasized humanity's organic relationship to its environment. The City in History remains a powerfully influential work, one that has shaped the agendas of urban planners, sociologists, and social critics since its publication in the 1960s.
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Mumford's theses are classic historical analysis and remain pertinent to today. Particularly his view that encroaching bureaucracy poses - as he demonstrates it has for millennia - the most significant threat to the preeminence of dominant cultures.
Mumford was particularly drawn to the early Hellenic and later medieval town planning ideals. He noted how the early cities knew their limits, and established satellite communities, rather than continually extend their boundaries. Loose-knit federations were formed, which were much more democratic than were the Roman and Baroque regimental cities.
He charts the evolution of modern city planning ideals, very critical of Le Corbusier's "Radiant City" and other megalomaniac ideas which arose in the 20th century. Mumford favored the "garden city" ideals of Ebeneezer Howard, which recognized the destructive impact of industrialization on urban centers; rather than those schemes which extolled the industrial city as the city of the future.
Mumford is careful not to over reach, or at least let you know when he is forming suppositions. His annotated bibliography is immense, and probably the single most compelling aspect of this book for those who want to read more on the subject. The new Harcourt paperback edition, which came when I ordered this volume, has a more handsome cover than that shown in this listing.
When I had the chance to buy it form Amazon, I took it in a minute!
Mumford's opinion for the "City" is so clear and yet so original that even people with no scientific intrest in this book, will enjoy reading it.
He has wonderful examples and detailed studies on the history of cities starting from Egypt, Greece Rome and Middle Ages.
Its a unique historical work that everybody should have it in their library!