Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History Is Reshaping Our World

Doug Saunders, Author
Doug Saunders, Pantheon, $27.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-375-42549-3
Reviewed on: 12/20/2010
Release date: 03/01/2011
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In a globe-trotting narrative alive with on-the-ground reportage, journalist Saunders offers a cautionary but essentially optimistic perspective on global urbanization. He concentrates on the slums and satellite communities that act as portals from villages to cities and, in turn, revitalize village economies. Policy makers misunderstand at their peril these "arrival cities"—London's heavily Bangladeshi Tower Hamlets, Brazil's favelas, China's Shenzhen. Citing the statistical relationship between urbanization and falling poverty rates, as well as historical precedents like Paris ("the first great arrival city of the modern world"), Saunders insists urban migration means improvement overall, and that the arrival city serves as a springboard for the integration of new populations. While the picture of urbanization veers from gloomier forecasts by analysts like Mike Davis (Planet of Slums), it does so by eschewing direct questioning of the global economic system driving much of this migration. Barely addressed are food, energy, and water shortages, or the fact that healthy city growth requires preservation of surrounding ecosystems on which cities habitually wreak havoc. Saunders's narrative, however, does plead for rational and humane planning within global capitalism to ensure that arrival cities fulfill their purpose and achieve their potential. (Mar.)
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