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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  84 ratings  ·  10 reviews
In Cities, the acclaimed historian John Reader takes us on a journey of the city—from its earliest example in the Ancient Near East to today’s teeming centers of compressed existence, such as Mumbai and Tokyo. Cities are home to half the planet’s population and consume nearly three-quarters of its natural resources. For Reader, they are our most natural artifacts, the civi ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (first published 2004)
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I only read a few chapters of this book. What I read was interesting but I didn't think I could ever complete reading this book. I was interested in this subject matter but apparently only on the surface.

This book is about cities of the world. How they were formed, why, and how they declined.

I discovered that the first world city was Catal Huyuk which was founded some 9000 years ago in what is now southern Turkey.

I found the life of the Sumerians fascinating. They lived 4000 years ago in Mesopo
Jul 26, 2007 Max rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: "metropophiles"?
John Reader's Cities is more of a collection of essays about different aspects of urbanism than it is a coherent statement about the city in history. The fact that you don't, by any means, need to read this one cover to cover from front to back to get into it was a pleasant surprise. Things learned: the economic centrality of small-scale urban gardening in Cuba due to trade embargos, Nairobi is sinking because it was built on a river bed, Stockholm's utopically planned suburbs have actually offe ...more
Scarcely have I read a more fact-filled book. Fact fact fact fact. Fact.

That said, I did persevere the many weeks it took of bedside reading to get through Cities. The major themes of the book (disease, environmentalism, sprawl) were interesting in a "how'd they do that" kind of way, and were conveyed by someone clearly passionate about the subject. I was wishing for a more conversational style and impassioned appeal (picked it up in the first place because hey, I like cities too), instead got a
Justin Covey
This book lacks any kind of central thesis or overarching structure, and that's okay. Not every subject calls for a Silent Spring style polemic and I found John Readers amiable, tangent following style engrossing. Of course he's only able to pull this off because no matter what unexpected turn he takes the subject remains engrossing and informative. Almost every page of this book I learned something fascinating and new, and more than anything else that's what I'm looking for in non-fiction.
It's fine so far, but a bit general. Interesting cities, but I dislike his use of '6,000 years ago, 4,000 years ago, etc' instead of real dates. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I wish it were more academic (!).

Yeah...not going to finish this book. next.
good review of trash in London in the 1700s ... but there are other good qualities of the book as well. part of the city reading.
Feb 09, 2009 Mike is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, but not very cohesive.
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An author and photojournalist with more than forty years' professional experience. He holds an Honorary Research Fellowship in the Department of Anthropology at U.C.L.
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