A History of Future Cities
One of The Washington Post's "Favorite Books of 2013"
A pioneering exploration of four cities where East meets West and past becomes future: St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Dubai.
Every month, five million people move from the past to the future. Pouring into developing-world “instant cities” like Dubai and Shenzhen, these urban newcomers confront a modern world cobble ...more
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I finished the book and it went more or less as I anticipated: tons of new information on Shanghai and Mumbai, then torture with St. Petersburg. Thank God later Dubai joined it as a whipping boy. All in all impression left by the book: St. Petersburg and Dubai is hubris, two others are shining examples of daring human spirit.
Just started. Intro was inspiring. Along came Chapter 1 on my native Russia and the city I lived 2 years in and a monarch about whom Robert K. Massie wrote a stunni ...more
Prior to this book it never occurred to me what these four cities have in common. (Other than that three of them rhyme.) All four cities began as deliberate efforts to change the values an ...more
The book starts with a glorious history of the city: the Portuguese etymology of its erstwhile name (B ...more
A study of th ...more
This is a highly recommendable read, although with a few reservations. The fundamentals of the book, is a description of the rise (and often fall) of 4 major cities: St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Bombay/Mumbai and Dubai.
What Daniel Brook delves into in his narrative, are the premises of why these cities were built, how it came to happen and what consequences it brought about.
The historical overview the book gives is splendid. D.B. gi ...more
Brook brings the analytical tools of a historian or economist (his explanation for 'why Dubai?' is amazing) with the narrative eye of an novelist, a rare, and welcome, combination. This is a book unlike any I' ...more
A really fascinating history and present-day analysis of three cities - St. Petersburg, Shanghai and Mumbai/Bombay. Brook's argument, that we can only understand the idea of modern global cities (and in particular the rapidly-growing cities of what he terms the Asian Century) by understanding their pasts - is made int ...more
This is an interesting look at Dubai and the cities that inspired it (St Petersburgh, Shanghai, and Mumbai). It was crafted very thoughtfully and full of interesting themes and causes. Each history was broken down by eras and the book moved back and forth between the cities. I found it to be quite a good rainy day read. I think I would enjoy a history just on St Petersburgh thought, as that was the most intriguing.
Unlike many other non-fiction books of late, there is no fictionalized a ...more
This was an interesting read as I learned not only about St Petersburg, Shanghai, Mumbai and Dubai, but reflected upon what creates social justice in urban settings.
As for the writing, I found the historical chapters on these cities quite readable. Once we arrived at the last 30 years, the links between topics and characters were much less smooth. Perhaps this was because his sources were more varied. It may also be more difficult ...more
Essentially, Mr. Brook is engaged in a demonstration that civilization, as a local phenomenon is a quaint bit of xenophobia and it is only through the effacing of local identity and the adoption of a global identity that humans may find prosperity. Little is said, that ...more
All four also saw significant limits to the rights and freedoms normally granted in the Western cities they emulate, intense poverty alongside opulent riches and simmering tensions between l ...more
In a sweeping tale which incorporates a bulky amount of history, the author has somehow managed to make it all coherent and interesting. He brushe ...more
The book makes the reader see the described cities in a new light through a historical journey explaining political, social, psychological and architectural factors which formed Saint-Petersburg, Shanghai, Mumbai and Dubai. I really enjoyed the idea of describing urban development through analysis of the historical environment.
Also very interesting are the ideas on how cities create outstanding personalities and how those personalities influence later the cities they represent.
What I didn’t ...more
Ok, that was a bit hurried. I was watching the BBC's documentary on the Tsars and was fascinated with Peter the Great and Catherine the Great and how Peter toured Europe incognito and worked many professions as an apprentice. Because of his love of everything west he went home, built a navy, conquered the Swedes and built a new European city, St. Petersburg on reclaimed swamp land. Catherine continued his ideals. I was walking down ...more
Father Gapon was a labor organizer.
Gandhi disliked Bombay because he had not been able to crack its Indian British-educated elite.
The Sikh police force of Shanghai was co-opted by the Japanese invaders.
The siege of Leningrad was the longest of any city in history.
So much for the history buff to enjoy.