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 previous turns into destiny: St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Dubai.
each month, 5 million humans circulation from the prior to the long run. Pouring into developing-world “instant towns” like Dubai and Shenzhen, those city newbies confront a latest global cobbled jointly from fragments of a West they've got by no means obvious. Do those fantastical boomtowns, the place blueprints spring to existence in a single day on virgin land, characterize the dawning of a courageous new international? Or is their vaunted newness a mirage?
In a charming combination of heritage and reportage, Daniel Brook travels to a chain 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 international order, he argues, calls for comprehending the West’s profound and conflicted impact on developing-world towns over the centuries.
In 1703, Tsar Peter the good individually oversaw the development of a brand new Russian capital, a “window at the West” rigorously modeled on Amsterdam, that he believed may wrench Russia into the trendy international. within the 19th century, Shanghai grew to become the fastest-growing urban in the world because it mushroomed into an English-speaking, Western-looking city that simply occurred to be within the a ways 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 glossy areas 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 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 should be transcended today.
A attention-grabbing, shiny glance from the earlier out towards the horizon, A heritage of destiny Cities is either a vital reminder of globalization’s lengthy march and an inspiring inspect the chances of our Asian Century.
12 illustrations; four maps