Doubleday. Nov. 2020. 464p. ISBN 9780385543460. $32.50.. HIST
Cities have fundamentally changed the human life experience. While most of the human past was spent in the fields or amid small settlements, urban life now dominates social, economic, and political undertakings. Wilson (What Price Liberty??) describes the beginnings of urban centers in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago, leading readers through classical Athens and Rome, medieval burgs, and the skyscrapers of New York. Wilson discusses how cities, as political and social entities, can draw power, capital, and innovation, even beyond the boundaries of the nation state. Readers discover cosmopolitan centers such as medieval Lüebeck, Germany, the giant markets of Tenochtitlan in Aztec Mexico, and the hustle and bustle commerce of 17th-century Amsterdam, Netherlands. Here, world history is at the city level, providing details on a smaller scale. There are several examples of city power, including the 1511 Portuguese capture of the city of Malacca, in what is today Malaysia, which transformed global economic and power structures.
VERDICT Information rich and accessible. For history and public policy readers seeking a global vision of the impact of world cities.
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