On May 27, 1703, Tsar Peter the Great founded a new capital on a barren Baltic marsh. Modeled on Amsterdam, he believed it would erase Russian backwardness and usher in a modernized, Westernized future. In the nineteenth-century Age of Imperialism, the British rebuilt Bombay as a tropical London, while three Western powers made Shanghai look just like home. And in our own time, the sheikh of Dubai has endeavored to transform his desert city into a Vegas-esque skyscraper-studded global hub. The cultural and historical threads that connect these cities and their conflicted embrace of modernity are brought into relief in Daniel Brook’s captivating mix of history and reportage—a story of architects and authoritarians, artists and revolutionaries who take these facsimiles of the West and turn them into crucibles of non-Western modernity. A History of Future Cities is both a crucial reminder of globalization’s long march and an inspiring look into the possibilities of our Asian Century.
Daniel Brook is the author of The Trap and a journalist whose work has appeared in publications including Harper's, The Nation, and Slate. He lives in New Orleans.
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