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A history of the forms and functions fo the city throughout the ages, also a prophecy for the future. Winner of the National Book Award, 1962.
Thorough Analysis of the City Across Time
Things Lewis Mumford likes: medieval towns and "garden city" ideals. Things Lewis Mumford does not like: Roman cities and capitalism. If you can make it through this dense, comprehensive work you will have a much better understanding of the history of cities. You will learn how they came into existence, what functions they performed, and what purposed they filled throughout time.
Mumford asserts that "human life swings between two poles: movement and settlement." To illustrate this, he takes readers from the earliest cave dwellings up to the modern era. Well, the modern era of the 1960s, when The City in History was written. Though he has been criticized for veering off-point with his anti-capitalist sentiments and his fears about the future, as well as his failure to acknowledge any contributions made by certain periods (i.e. Roman), this is still a book to be reckoned with.
The City in History is still referenced by urban planners, sociologists, etc. today and really makes you think about cities in a whole new way. This may not be the book you take with you to the beach, but it is still the best starting point for those who want to better understand how the urban form has evolved. The style may be dry at times (with so much information to touch on, this is difficult to avoid), but Mumford presents things in an interesting way. Like his point that the dead were the first in history to have permanent dwellings! Graveyard - I never thought of that, but it's true!
Posted January 9, 2013
Mumford's book remains the standard historical overview of urban centers from ancient times to the modern era. A must for historians and anyone considering an urban planning or architectural career.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 29, 2010
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