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The City: A Global History


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About the Author

Joel Kotkin is an Irvine senior fellow with the New America Foundation, which is based in Washington, D.C. He is the author of five books, including Tribes and The New Geography, both published by Random House. Kotkin is a frequent contributor to The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Inc. magazine, The American Enterprise, and the Los Aneles Times "Opinion" section. He also serves as a senior fellow of the Newman Institute at Baruch College of the City University of New York and lectures at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. He lives in Valley Village, Los Angeles, with his wife, Mandy, and two daughters, Ariel and Hannah.


A Los Angeles-based senior fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC, Kotkin (The New Geography) offers a brief but thorough overview of cities in a global context. Kotkin limns the salient aspects of imperial, classical, "Oriental," Islamic, and industrial cities and dispersed suburbanized conurbations, focusing on two themes: the universality of the urban experience and the need for all successful cities to combine sacred or moral purpose, a security-providing political structure, and a commercial base centered on a viable middle class. Civilization, the author argues, is inextricably linked to life in cities, entrepots for both material goods and ideas. Whether in Mesoamerica, in Mesopotamia, or along the Mediterranean, municipalities have flourished as places of relative tolerance and creative energy. Kotkin cites the alarming "deurbanization" of some late 20th-century American metropolises, where rising crime rates caused residents to flee, an instance that echoes the evacuations of late classical times. Seasoned with quotations from contemporary observers and buttressed by endnotes, this lyrically written reflection is recommended for all libraries.-Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Library of Congress Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Advance Praise for The City

"A compelling and original synthesis that belongs on the urbanist's bookshelf with Lewis Mumford, Peter Hall, and Fernand Braudel."
-Witold Rybczynski, Martin & Margy Meyerson Professor of Urbanism, School of Design, professor of Real Estate, Wharton School

"No one knows more about cities than Joel Kotkin, and has more to teach us about them. In The City, Kotkin takes us on a brisk and invigorating tour of cities from the Babylon of ancient times to the burgeoning exurbs of today. It is impossible not to learn a lot from this book."
-Michael Barone, senior writer, U.S. News & World Report, and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics "If you want to understand why the future of American and European cities is mixed at best, if you want to understand why George Bush won the 2004 election, you need to read Joel Kotkin's account of how and why cities have developed and declined."
-Fred Siegel, author of Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York and the Genius of American Life, senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute "Unique and powerful insights into urban life . . . This book is a great read."
-Bob Lanier, Mayor of Houston, 1992-1998

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