Metropolis: A History of the City, Humankind's Greatest Invention (Hardcover) | Northshire Bookstore

Metropolis: A History of the City, Humankind's Greatest Invention (Hardcover)

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Northshire Manchester
10 on hand, as of Jan 18 10:45am
(History - General)
Northshire Saratoga
4 on hand, as of Jan 18 10:45am
(History - General)

Staff Reviews

This “history of humankind’s greatest invention” is a masterpiece of engaging historical writing. Ben Wilson structures Metropolis chronologically from the first city Uruk 6000 years ago to Lagos the fastest growing city and on track to become the largest megalopolis by the middle of the century with its answers to Silicon Valley and Dubai. He reveals both the repellent smells and the attractions of cities, the horrors of 19th century industry (life expectancy in Manchester and Chicago? 26) but also the community of its laboring inhabitants, how the informal settlements we dismissively called slums, are alive with entrepreneurs and microeconomies. With stops on the brilliant plumbing of Mohenjo-Daro, the loss of the communal bath in the west with the fall of Rome, animals like peregrine falcons who prosper in the city, and the intricate web of systemic racism, FHA loans, & suburbia, this is a wonderful book. — Dafydd Wood


From a brilliant young historian, a colorful journey through 7,000 years and twenty-six world cities that shows how urban living has been the spur and incubator to humankind's greatest innovations.

In the two hundred millennia of our existence, nothing has shaped us more profoundly than the city. Historian Ben Wilson, author of bestselling and award-winning books on British history, now tells the grand, glorious story of how city living has allowed human culture to flourish. Beginning with Uruk, the world's first city, dating to 5000 BC and memorably portrayed in the Epic of Gilgamesh, he shows us that cities were never a necessity but that once they existed their density created such a blossoming of human endeavor--producing new professions, forms of art, worship, and trade--that they kick-started nothing less than civilization.
     Guiding readers through famous cities over 7,000 years, he reveals the innovations driven by each: civics in the agora of Athens, global trade in ninth-century Baghdad, finance in the coffeehouses of London, domestic comforts in the heart of Amsterdam, peacocking in Belle Epoque Paris. In the modern age, he studies the impact of verticality in New York City, the sprawl of L.A., and the eco-reimagining of twenty-first-century Shanghai. Lively, erudite, page turning, and irresistible, Metropolis is a grand tour of human achievement.

About the Author

BEN WILSON has an undergraduate and master's degree in history from Cambridge. He is the author of five previous books, including What Price Liberty?, for which he received the Somerset Maugham Award, and the Sunday Times bestseller Empire of the Deep: The Rise and Fall of the British Navy. He has consulted for various TV history programs and appeared on TV and on national radio in the U.S., UK, and Ireland. He has written for The Spectator, The Literary Review, The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman, Men's Health, The Guardian Online, and GQ.

Praise For…

"[A] towering achievement . . . Reading this book is like visiting an exhilarating city for the first time-dazzling, frazzling, sometimes both simultaneously. Metropolis teems with information and observations."
--The Wall Street Journal

"Ben Wilson takes us on an exhilarating tour of more than two dozen cities and thousands of years . . . Metropolis is a bold undertaking that makes for gripping reading."
--The New York Times Book Review

"[An] ode to cities and cosmopolitan life . . . Metropolis has the added virtue of Wilson as
an erudite, creative guide to the history of civilization through its great urban areas."
--TIME magazine

"He explores the growth, diversity and evolution of human civilisation in this enchanting and meandering book."
--The Evening Standard

"[A] sharp reminder that the metropolis is vulnerable... [Wilson] brilliantly synthesises the forces that make cities hum."
--Financial Times

"[Wilson] hops from city to city and century to century, interweaving data, primary sources, anecdotes and the arts. . . Wilson has done an admirable job wrangling his topic down to an easily digestible size."
--Star Tribune

"Historian Wilson (Empire of the Deep) offers a sweeping survey of how the rise of cities over the past 6,000 years has shaped human history. . . An amiable and well-informed tour guide, Wilson stuffs his account with intriguing arcana and analysis. Armchair travelers will be enlightened and entertained."
--Publishers Weekly

"Information rich and accessible. For history and public policy readers seeking a global vision of the impact of world cities."
--Library Journal

Product Details
ISBN: 9780385543460
ISBN-10: 0385543468
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: November 10th, 2020
Pages: 464
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