By Daniel Brook
One of The Washington Post's "Favorite Books of 2013"
A pioneering exploration of 4 towns the place East meets West and prior turns into destiny: St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Dubai.
each month, 5 million humans stream from the previous to the long run. Pouring into developing-world “instant towns” like Dubai and Shenzhen, those city rookies confront a contemporary global cobbled jointly from fragments of a West they've got by no means obvious. Do those fantastical boomtowns, the place blueprints spring to lifestyles in a single day on virgin land, symbolize the dawning of a courageous new international? Or is their vaunted newness a mirage?
In an enthralling combination of heritage and reportage, Daniel Brook travels to a sequence of significant metropolitan hubs that have been as soon as themselves fast towns― St. Petersburg, Shanghai, and Mumbai―to watch their “dress rehearsals for the twenty-first century.” figuring out today’s rising worldwide order, he argues, calls for comprehending the West’s profound and conflicted effect on developing-world towns over the centuries.
In 1703, Tsar Peter the nice individually oversaw the development of a brand new Russian capital, a “window at the West” rigorously modeled on Amsterdam, that he believed could wrench Russia into the fashionable international. within the 19th century, Shanghai grew to become the fastest-growing urban on the earth because it mushroomed into an English-speaking, Western-looking city that simply occurred to be within the some distance East. in the meantime, Bombay, the cosmopolitan hub of the British Raj, morphed right into a tropical London by the hands of its pith-helmeted imperialists.
Juxtaposing the tales of the architects and authoritarians, the artists and revolutionaries who seized the reins to remodel every one of those precociously smooth locations into avatars of the worldwide destiny, Brook demonstrates that the force for modernization was once in the beginning conflated with wholesale Westernization. He exhibits, too, the ambiguous legacy of that emulation―the beginning (and rebirth) of chinese language capitalism in Shanghai, the origins of Bollywood in Bombay’s American-style motion picture palaces, the flamable mixture of progressive tradition and politics that rocked the Russian capital―and the way it could be transcended today.
A interesting, brilliant glance from the earlier out towards the horizon, A historical past of destiny Cities is either a vital reminder of globalization’s lengthy march and an inspiring look at the chances of our Asian Century.
12 illustrations; four maps
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Extra info for A History of Future Cities
Peter ordered that his three-room wood cabin be equipped to seem like a redbrick Amsterdam townhouse. without bricks on hand, the wooden was once planed flat and painted purple with a grid development to resemble brick. to represent the recent orientation of town, the 1st complicated accomplished within the capital, the Peter and Paul fort, will be ruled by way of a golden church spire atop its cathedral. taking a look extra like a Northern ecu Protestant church steeple than an onion-domed japanese Orthodox one used to be simply the half it; the genuine goal of the steeple used to be solely secular: to be a beacon to ships crusing into the recent capital from the West. For all its impersonation of Amsterdam, there will be the most important adjustments among Peter’s reproduction and the Dutch unique. whereas Amsterdam lured migrants with the chance of tolerance, paintings, and wealth, St. Petersburg could construct its inhabitants via royal decree. Peter ordered his nobles in addition to retailers, investors, and expert artisans to relocate to St. Petersburg with their households. whereas many doubted the tsar’s sanity in founding a brand new capital from scratch on the fringe of the arctic, disobedience was once no longer an choice. while one nobleman, Prince Golitsyn, resisted, he was once introduced from Moscow to St. Petersburg in chains. whereas serfdom had died out centuries earlier than in Western Europe, its glossy towns outfitted via paid workers and craftsmen, Peter might construct his city with unpaid, unfree serfs. In 1704, he ordered his nobles to ship him 40 thousand serfs a 12 months, lent out for six-month excursions of building responsibility. In St. Petersburg, this large hard work strength drove the root piles into the floor, dug the canals, and equipped the palaces. in the course of summer’s White Nights, they labored close to round the clock shifts from 5:00 a. m. to 10:00 p. m. regardless of his obsession with know-how, Peter selected to not import even the main rudimentary instruments for his guide employees. Russia had no wheelbarrows. in truth, whilst Peter and his entourage had encounter the unique devices on their Western ecu travel, they'd raced one another down hills in them, trashing their host’s manicured grounds. yet instead of import wheelbarrows, Peter had his serfs hold away of their shirts the swampy dust they cleared in development the rules of his urban. Many serfs lacked even shovels, and resorted to digging with sticks and nails. lower than such stipulations, it's no ask yourself St. Petersburg turned often called “a urban equipped on bones. ” Peter himself boasted that 100000 humans had perished development him his urban. although Russian commoners might proceed to clever below the despotic, feudal method of serfdom for one more century and a part, the nobles will be compelled to modernize posthaste. simply as Peter dressed his nobles in sleek garments, he compelled them to reside glossy lives. they might not stroll or journey on horses or in carriages. as a substitute, they might sail. to show pastoral provincials into seafaring cosmopolitans, Peter made up our minds St. Petersburg, much more than Amsterdam, may alternative canals for streets.