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A portrait of world civilization told through the stories of the world's greatest cities from ancient times to the present.
Today, for the first time in history, the majority of people in the world live in cities. The implications and challenges associated with this fact are enormous. But how did we get here?
From the origins of urbanization in Mesopotamia to the global metropolises of today, great cities have marked the development of human civilization. The Great Cities in History tells their stories, starting with the earliest, from Uruk and Memphis to Jerusalem and Alexandria. Next come the fabulous cities of the first millennium: Damascus and Baghdad, Teotihuacan and Tikal, and Chang’an, capital of Tang Dynasty China. The medieval world saw the rise of powerful cities such as Palermo and Paris in Europe, Benin in Africa, and Angkor in southeast Asia. The last two sections bring us from the early modern world, with Isfahan, Agra, and Amsterdam, to the contemporary city: London and New York, Tokyo and Barcelona, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo.
The distinguished contributors, including Jan Morris, Michael D. Coe, Simon Schama, Orlando Figes, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Misha Glenny, Susan Toby Evans, and A. N. Wilson, evoke the character of each place—people, art and architecture, government—and explain the reasons for its success.