Cities have always been the incubators of new ideas, economic innovation, and social reform. But recent demands and expectations placed on cities and their citizens are unprecedented: everything from chronic poverty and homelessness to massive energy consumption and nonstop suburban sprawl. In this timely book, cities specialist John Lorinc considers the enormous implications of the worldwide mass migration away from rural regions. He shows how solutions can emerge from neighborhoods and dynamic networks linking communities to governments and the broader urban world. Beyond the search for better housing, transit, economic opportunity, and security within neighborhoods, today’s city-dwellers confront a fundamental question about what it means to live in our urban world. How do people from vastly different cultures and economic circumstances learn to accommodate one another's needs within the confines of very dense and complex mega-cities? This book offers a well-reasoned, creative answer to that question.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Groundwork Guide series is apparently designed to provide upper teens with introductions to current issues or topics without talking down to them. In that sense, this book is probably pretty successful. A person who has already thought or read about cities won't find much new here. Author John Lorinc doesn't so much survey as simply echo today's conventional wisdom about cities, citing freely to such works as the City Reader (1996), the Global Cities Reader (2006); and Joel Kotkin's The City: A Global History (2005). For someone wholly new to the field, this book could provide a useful introduction to common ideas currently in play. A student who reads this will have an implicit sense of the contours of ongoing public policy discussions, and both the endnotes and bibliography provide a good list of the touchstone works in the field. On the other hand, what a reader won't get is any new critical thinking, or even insights that have been published by other authors but not fully absorbed into the field's background knowledge. For example, Lorinc references Jane Jacobs, Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) for her recognition that density isn't synonymous with decay. In that book, Jacobs also attacks the tendency of neighborhoods to become commercial monocultures of high-status businesses, leading inexorably (in her view) to the decline of those neighborhoods. Lorinc doesn't say a lot about the economic structure of cities, but blandly asserts, "Specialization and concentration is another hallmark of urban markets. In present day cities, certain retail areas come to be known for a certain category of good -- clothing, antiques, specialty foods, books." This isn't wrong, but it doesn't mention Jacob's argument, or its implication for public policy. This isn't just a question of how the book treats Jacobs; more generally, where the conventional wisdom about city planning is shallow or mushy, that's what this book provides.