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The City: A Global History by Joel Kotkin - Book Report/Review Example

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The City: A Global History by Joel Kotkin

Throughout the ages, it has been a natural tendency of the human beings to constitute larger and more complex communities. Though such augmentation of the social complexity over the years, eventually manifested as urban life created many unexpected problems of its own, still there is no denying the fact that it is this very unwieldy city life that led to the unprecedented developments in the sphere of technology, art, economics, religion and culture.
The scope of Kotkin's theme is really vast that tries to explore the genesis of the city by traversing the cities of the past that evolved around a theological nucleus or monument to the sprawling metropolitans of today. In this relatively short work; Kotkin attempted his best to incorporate the history of as many cities as possible so as to facilitate a logical insight into the evolution of the city. Kotkin tried to pragmatically correlate the development of various cities with the predominant national events and trends. Still this book offers little in terms of an in depth explanation of the salient external and internal factors that finally determined the ultimate character of each city being considered. Therefore, though this book is decidedly episodic in its approach towards history, yet it offers many thought provoking insights into the history of urban and suburban growth. Kotkin definitely never intended to pander to the preferences of a more pedantic readership, but his motive was to solicit the interest of the informed lay man, in which he impressively succeeded.
The primary crux of Kotkin's approach is that throughout the history, the most thriving and successful cities inevitably happened to be "sacred, safe and busy (2005, p.60)." Kotkin not only stresses upon the essential need for the religious moorings of any healthy city, but also brings to the forefront the debate on the safety aspects of any worthwhile, modern, urban center, which is very current and contemporary in its perspective. For a city to be truly successful, it is imperative for it to be bustling with trade and commerce.
Kotkin elucidates his case by citing that a majority of the thriving cities in the past also served as the nucleus of the religious life and temples, cathedrals and mosques happened to be an integral constituent of their landscape that attracted the devout from far and wide (2005, p. 67). Religion furnished an organizing influence into the city life and enabled people to ...Show more

Summary

Evolution and complexity are two intricately related concepts. Even a cursory perusal of the world history conclusively reveals that with each successive evolutionary step in the history of mankind, the human society became more knotty and complex. Joel Kotkin in his engrossingly interesting work 'The City: A Global History' declares that by the end of this decade, the till now miniscule urban communities all around the world will eventually constitute a majority of the total global population…
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