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

PERFECT CITY

AN URBAN FIXER'S GLOBAL SEARCH FOR MAGIC IN THE MODERN METROPOLIS

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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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