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 earlier turns into destiny: St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Dubai.
each month, 5 million humans movement from the earlier 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 visible. Do those fantastical boomtowns, the place blueprints spring to lifestyles in a single day on virgin land, characterize the dawning of a courageous new global? Or is their vaunted newness a mirage?
In an enthralling mix of background and reportage, Daniel Brook travels to a sequence of significant metropolitan hubs that have been as soon as themselves speedy towns― St. Petersburg, Shanghai, and Mumbai―to watch their “dress rehearsals for the twenty-first century.” knowing 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 might wrench Russia into the fashionable global. within the 19th century, Shanghai turned the fastest-growing urban on the earth because it mushroomed into an English-speaking, Western-looking city that simply occurred to be within the a long way 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 each one of those precociously sleek areas into avatars of the worldwide destiny, Brook demonstrates that the force for modernization used to be at the beginning conflated with wholesale Westernization. He indicates, too, the ambiguous legacy of that emulation―the delivery (and rebirth) of chinese language capitalism in Shanghai, the origins of Bollywood in Bombay’s American-style motion picture palaces, the flamable mixture of innovative tradition and politics that rocked the Russian capital―and the way it will be transcended today.
A attention-grabbing, shiny glance from the earlier out towards the horizon, A historical past of destiny Cities is either a very important reminder of globalization’s lengthy march and an inspiring look at the chances of our Asian Century.
12 illustrations; four maps