A compelling and peripatetic account of an urban fixer’s work in cities around the globe.



A Toronto-based urban planner and consultant gives a tour of some of the world’s greatest metropolises. 

From Sydney to Belfast, this debut book walks readers through eight cities. Drawing on his career competing in the “high-energy, high-rise global market for ideas on cities and their futures,” Berridge presents his thoughts on urban machinery, economic development, and what makes metropolises work. In England, he became the master planner for the redevelopment of Hulme, “an inner-city district just south of Manchester’s centre that has gone through several incarnations even in my lifetime.” In these pages, he examines Manchester’s history and the impact of Brexit. The author’s firm “specializes in planning downtowns, waterfronts, and similar large-scale urban projects.” In addition, he advises on projects in Belfast, Singapore, and Governors Island in New York City. Throughout the volume, which includes ruminations on Toronto, Shanghai, and New York, the author offers readers insights into differing approaches to city planning. The specters of Jane Jacobs—whom he became acquainted with in his adopted hometown of Toronto—and Robert Moses both loom large. In Singapore, with its planned efficiency, Berridge writes that “a modern version of Robert Moses rules” there. The book works best when the author turns his professional eye toward these cities—“First impressions are so important”—to share reflections that deftly spotlight his knowledge of urban planning. He writes enthusiastically about public libraries and local food. His description of London’s District Line exemplifies his ability to combine urban appreciation with analysis: “Starting in the leafy Thames-side urban villages of Richmond, Wimbledon, and Kew, home to quiet, secure money, moving east it picks up the aspiring inner suburbs of Hammersmith, Putney and Fulham before diving below ground through the expensive squares and crescents of South Kensington.” The volume’s only shortcoming is that Berridge’s discussions of political problems like housing inequality are too cursory. Still, he provides readers with a helpful road map for successful urban development and skillfully details the thinking behind a number of remarkable metropolises. 

A compelling and peripatetic account of an urban fixer’s work in cities around the globe.

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9994395-1-4

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Sutherland House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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