THE CITY IN HISTORY

ITS ORIGINS, ITS TRANSFORMATIONS, AND ITS PROSPECTS

The distillation of years of research, study, reflection and writing — and the fulfillment of the promise of The Culture of Cities, The City in History will challenge, disturb and inform all who come to grips with its thesis and development. Virtually, here- through the central theme of the city- is world history. It is far more than the study of urban culture through the ages. It is a revitalization of civilizations- with focus particularly on the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures of ancient Greece, the age of Pericles, the disintegration of the Hellenistic period, "richer in science than in wisdom", and the deterioration when Rome took over. He explores those factors that made the Greek cities unique- the contribution brought to urban culture by Olympia, Delphi, Cos- the decline of even respect towards the gods. To this reader this is the most revealing section, for he approaches half-known facts and endows them with fresh vision and interpretation. The nature of the ancient city sets the note, until the concept of perpetual war and conquest was evolved, never to be lost. His portrayal of the Roman city concept, too, is different from the accepted one, as is their contribution to world history. Almost cynical he seems as he itemizes Rome at its best, its worst, and in survival with Byzantium. The emergence of the Christian culture, the role of monasticism, the struggle of the Middle Ages against the barbarians and how the urban movement was reborn out of insecurity. We then see Romanesque Europe, we study medieval town planning, the Baroque of the 16th and 17th centuries and the mercantile capitalism that emerged supreme. His final section forms a chant of dismay and discouragement- but not, finally, of despair, over the advance of urbanism gluttonously embracing all outlying districts, turning men into machines. But in the shadows he sees glimmers of hope, that the very instruments of our destruction can be turned around to be instruments of salvation, and that the "One World Man" can be the goal of the future city:- "that of creating a visible regional and civic structure designed to make man at home with his deeper self and his larger world". So closes one of the great achievements in social studies of our times.

Pub Date: April 12, 1961

ISBN: 0156180359

Page Count: 788

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1961

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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