Tyler Jones's Reviews > Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas About Cities

Makeshift Metropolis by Witold Rybczynski
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's review
Feb 03, 11

bookshelves: cities, architecture
Read in January, 2011

Cities, both real and imaginary, are fascinating to me. I am captivated by the way cities change - the dance between city hall, business interests and the needs of communities. A city planner may have one idea, a developer another, and market forces a third.

I was very glad to come across this book because it gave me a background in the changing theories about urban (and suburban) development. As a primer to someone like me who had never read anything on the topic before it was excellent. However, what I really secretly was hoping for was a book that was more passionate and inspiring. Rybczynski neatly sums up the major trends in thought on the subject and even provides a bit of criticism, but there is very little sense of excitement. Call me crazy, but I think this is a very sexy topic and I was hoping for a more passionate book than this somewhat dry effort. I suppose the fault lies with me, but still...

A great deal of the book is comprised retellings of how various communities were concieved and built. While interesting enough, I began to wish for less of this and even began to suspect the author was relying on these descriptions help fill out the 200 pages. I got the sense Rybcyzynski was pressured into publishing a book that was only half finished - we have here all the research he has done, but very little of his own ideas or insights....or passion for the subject.
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