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Planet of Slums

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,978 ratings  ·  214 reviews
Mike Davis charts the expected global urbanization explosion over the next 30 years and points out that outside China most of the rest of the world's urban growth will be without industrialization or development, rather a 'peverse' urban boom in spite of stagnant or negative urban economic growth.
Hardcover, 228 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Verso
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Malcolm Little Not having solutions, especially those for the large scale slums exist in, doesn't mean one shouldn't bring to light the problems Davis mentioned. The…moreNot having solutions, especially those for the large scale slums exist in, doesn't mean one shouldn't bring to light the problems Davis mentioned. The author explicitly stated that he doesn't claim to have the answer to reducing the slum phenomenon without introducing a host of other issues.

That said, looking at the footnotes & endnotes provides bibliographical info on academics and economists who do put forth claims of solutions. Best to trawl through them and read their articles.(less)

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3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,978 ratings  ·  214 reviews

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This is one long howl of rage, interspersed with shockingly brief lucid sections, followed by another info dump of ineffable horror. You know how in The Dark Knight there's that line, "Some men just want to watch the world burn"? Mike Davis would like to inform you that the world is burning, that it is your fault, and that there is nothing that you can do to stop it. If this were the Middle Ages, Davis would have made a fine living as a fire and brimstone preacher, leading rows of self-flagellat ...more
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
The subject of this book doesn't get very much mainstream media attention, other than the occasional tangential mention. It is sort of overwhelming when one reads chapter after chapter on the enormous (and growing) slums of the world.

The author, Mike Davis (almost as old as I am), writer, political activist, urban theorist, historian. One time member of CORE, SDS.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Previous review: Childhood's End
Random review: The Sold
Emma Sea
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it

man, we've fucked everything up, haven't we.

Mike Davis doesn't like you. You unwitting colluder with the atrocities of late-stage capitalism. That's right, child of the first world, the blood is on your hands.

I read City of Quartz. I liked City of Quartz. Planet of Slums is like City of Quartz, but it's not just LA that's fucked, it's everywhere. Neoliberalism builds the garbage cities of Manila, the City of the Dead in Cairo, the great spiraling nightmare that is Kibera in Nairobi. Davis is an exceptionally talented reporter, and he pain
Jan 10, 2009 rated it liked it
This was certainly an interesting book and after finishing it I understand more about the topic - the world's slums and the back-slipping that seems to be happening for the urban poor). That said, I do think this is probably the most grim and sensational version that could have possibly been painted. Universally critical of all governments, classes, NGOs and other international organizations, the author takes the stance that absolutely nobody really knows how to handle this problem and anything ...more
Read for class.

This is utterly terrifying and damning. These slums are the exemplification of hell. I have seen some of these slums myself, and can confirm, if only to a minor degree, some of the horrors there. You feel oppressed and filthy and sick just seeing them. Your senses are bombarded. Davis certainly gets this depiction right.

I would have loved to have had some answers aside from finger-pointing. It is incredibly frustrating to have a truly nightmarish problem presented and no clear sol
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reading this book gave me an intense and depressing sense of deja vu. It was published in 2006, the year I finished my undergrad degree. I remember writing various essays about the problems of informal urban settlements in the developing world, in other words slums. Davis’ book is a devastating indictment of how neoliberal capitalism and the Washington Consensus created unimaginable levels of urban poverty in the developing world. (He calls it the Third World, but that term has since gone out of ...more
Dear little Swallow," said the Prince, "you tell me of marvellous things, but more marvellous than anything is the suffering of men and of women. There is no Mystery so great as Misery. Fly over my city, little Swallow, and tell me what you see there." - Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince.

There are at least four ways that this book can be read. Much depends, of course on the positioning of the reader.

First, straight up, as a catalogue of some truly horrific evidence of what human beings are able to d
Jul 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Good luck figuring out what to do with yourself once you've finished this book. The title might sound hyperbolic, but Davis underpins his terrifying thesis exhaustively with this tidal-wave-o'-super-scary-facts-delivered-nonchalantly prose style, which, along with the occasional offhand allusion to Bladerunner and the profligate use of the adjective "Orwellian," makes this probably the scariest thing I have ever, ever read.

Which is not to say it isn't also incredibly erudite and well researched
Dec 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
People sometimes ask me to recommend good books about cities and architecture; it's a pretty hard question - for the most part, contemporary urbanism is a vast wasteland of aesthetic critique lacking any social context. About the only writer I can recommend on these subjects is Mike Davis. Planet of Slums is an amazing book that describes the develop of and life in the shantytowns that are on the margins of cities across the Global South - that is, the cities were most people already live, and ...more
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work, reporting
Seriously, because once you read this, the Olympics looks even worse. Davis' book is very readable and wonderfully cited information about slums. It looks at the development and how various governments respond to it. If you have read Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, this is a good companion to that book for it focuses on more global facts than individual stories.
Jun 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
probably the most important thing you can read.
Jan 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read this a few years back and am rereading it now. It's a bit of a downer, i must warn you. It turns out slums are not as fun as they seem.
else fine
Nov 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
I'm not going to lie: this is dry. Really, really dry. I like dry, as a general rule, or at least it doesn't bother me - but this? Man. Maybe it's because the things he covers are so wrenchingly, horribly emotional and in order to get through it with any objectivity he had to cloak himself in boringness. At any rate, the information is valuable - maybe critical - and well worth wading through the whole of the text. The glimpse of our urban future that Davis provides is one we need to look at, ha ...more
Frank Stein
Mike Davis apparently took those complaints about his slippery relationship to the truth to heart, because this slim book is loaded down with footnotes. Unfortunately most of those cite just a select handful of left-wing texts, and even they often disagree with each other as to the reality of slum life in the Third World. Davis does nothing to reconcile them.

As far as I can tell from the book Davis never visited one of the slums he writes about, he never did any independent primary source resear
Mar 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is more relevant now than ever. Developing economies are facing a perfect storm worldwide. As the global financial crisis tightens its grip on developed economies, their demand for imported products and services as well as basic commodities, has plummeted, leaving emerging economies in an unprecedented state of vulnerability. Millions of people live in the megacities of these countries and their corrupt governments have fewer resources at their disposal to mitigate the effects of the c ...more
Jan 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book one enters the nightmare world of the urban poor who dominate the Third World whose position has been much harmed by the neoliberal policies of the IMF/World Bank dictated by the US Washington Consensus. Perhaps the global future was inevitable of the transition from country dwellers to urban slum inhabitants of 90% of the world's population with the rich in their gated communities terrified of them. A book that must be read.
Ahmed Mansour
قليل من التحليل الكثير من الوصف
قليل من الاسباب والمقدمات الكثير من النتائج
الكتاب عبارة عن
لاوضاع العشوائيات حول العالم بالذات في الفترات ما بعد الاستعمار وال

الكتاب مفتقر للارقام بشده بالذات في نقطة دور البنك الدولي وسياسات التكيف الهيكلي
في قفزات عجيبة بين الاسباب والنتائج دايما
الترجمه جيده جدا بل ممتازة على الرغم من ان المترجم حب يستعرض عضلاته الثقافية وارائه المتحيزة في مقدمه الكتاب الي اقل ما يقال عنها انها "بضان"
Dry, statistical -- familiar ground, and a bit out of date (published 2006 and based on projections going back to 2004).

Davis blames IMF shock policies over the internally driven tendency of modern "silicon" capitalism to decouple production growth from employment -- which is not fully persuasive. Still, a frightening portrait.
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mike Davis is one of the angriest men on the planet-- with good reason. If you want to learn more about the horrors of modern global capitalism, and I believe you should, then look no further than this book as a little introduction to the suffering and utter destitution of the majority of the world's people in this time of unprecedented decadence in the imperial core.
Nicole Means
Apr 17, 2017 rated it liked it
An essential Mike Davis explores in "Planet of Slums" is what kind of world do we live in where we are more concerned with meeting our own creature comforts than trying to help millions of people who are exposed to epidemics, solely because they lack access to clean water? Unfortunately, there are no answers, but Davis provides ample research to prove the inequalities that exist in today's urban areas. For instance, cholera, once thought to have dissipated during the Victorian era, still poses a ...more
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Ugh. Now that wasn’t exactly uplifting. Mike Davis’ (2006) ‘Planet of Slums’ looks at the more than 1 billion people living in slums, expected to reach 2 billion people within the next 10 years. Yes, within a few years, like one in 5 or so people will live this semi-death of urban slum hell, thanks to the triage of humanity under global capitalism. In Sub-Saharan Africa, about 2 in 3 of the urban peeps live in slums. This is what urbanization without industrialization looks like. This is also wh ...more
Bodour Bahliwah
حقائق صادمة عن واقع قاس جدا لنماذج مختلفه من العشوائيات حول العالم.. ثم يتطرق لمتاهات الرأسمالية وخلافه .ثلاث نجمات ونصف
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Urbanization was once an indicator of development, economically and socially. The growth of cities since the Industrial Revolution has put the city at the crux of the matter as a node that connects social and economic networks. However, the linear and evolutionary understanding of history and modernity was disproved by the dysfunctional operation of city structures and the social problems embedded in it. Modern is not necessarily a positive attribute. The city as such has been the most visual ex ...more
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Combine with John Smith's Imperialism in the 21st Century and Joshua Clover's Riot.Strike.Riot for an understanding of world conditions and the future and realize that class struggle will take on a characteristic different from the 20th century. Tailor politics accordingly.

As a sidenote, I can't remember seeing Hardt and Negri's Empire referenced in texts written after 2006 or so with anything other than deep disdain. That whole anti-globalization era of theory did not age well.
William Leight
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
“Planet of Slums” is a pretty depressing book. Davis’s goal is to demolish standard theories about how slums aren’t necessarily such bad places after all, and he does this by simply describing vast quantities of human misery. The romance of the squatter, the idea of the slum as a site of vast creativity, the proposal that slums contain an entrepreneurial energy that only needs to be released by the use of microcredit or by giving slum-dwellers their own land titles to create (relative) prosperit ...more
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Es una pena la dirección que toma el epílogo porque desmerece el trabajo detrás del resto del libro.
Si bien es innegable su sesgo, lo cierto es que todo lo descrito, que parece sacado de un cuento de terror, no puede casar con mayor precisión con mi experiencia personal en India.
Realmente es demoledor.
Nov 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anthropology
I'm a huge fan of Mike Davis, starting with the first book of his I read, Magical Urbanism. He's a great writer who just gets your heart beating and your energy focused. I have to say that it did take awhile for this book to get moving. The first 80 or so pages were just a nonstop recitation of facts that sought more to demoralize/depress me than actually motivate me to action. But, after this plethora of facts, he turns to analysis and that's where his writing skills shine.

There's items in here
Dec 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, politics
There are now something like 1000 cities with over a million population. Urbanization has occurred with astonishing speed in the past 30 years, and around the world the majority of that growth has been in the form of urban slums. This growth has been driven by a number of factors, including overall population growth, forced relocations, IMF and World Bank policies that have driven peasants off their land, refugee flight, and so on. The old, pre-1970, drivers of urban growth have largely disappea ...more
Apr 11, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environment
Although quite short at just over 200 pages, I found this book a little trying to get through. Instead of a concise treatise on the subject filled with insightful observations one is instead offered reams of statistics (mainly in text form at that) on various aspects of slums around the world. Each chapter deals with a particular facet of the sociological phenomenon of slums from the mainly descriptive to overviews of government and NGO policies that have contributed to the rapid slumming of the ...more
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Social commentator, urban theorist, historian, and political activist. He is best known for his investigations of power and social class in his native Southern California.