Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Five best books on cities

Simon Jenkins's new book is A Short History of England: The Glorious Story of a Rowdy Nation.

He named a five best list of books about cities for the Wall Street Journal. One title on the list:
Cities and People
by Mark Girouard (1985)

To Mark Girouard, great cities are romantic places, aesthetic, promiscuous, gorgeous, "where something is always going on." They throb, roar and seduce. His "social and architectural history" of cities from the Middle Ages to the 20th century include Florence, Paris, London and New York. To Henry James, they might "sit on you, brood on you, stamp on you." To Girouard they were essential and glorious, the finest creations of civilization. Seen from aerial photographs in this amply illustrated book, many of Girouard's cities seem too vast for their workings to be comprehended. But the camera swoops down to reveal the richness within, whether found on Rome's Piazza Navona or Vienna's Ringstrasse. Girouard's eye is alert to drama, whether found in the dappled water of Venice's Grand Canal or a jungle of Tokyo advertising or San Francisco's contour-defying street grid. I know of no book that makes me so desperate to leap into a plane and visit.
Read about another book on the list.

Also see Pete Hamill's five best books about cities.

--Marshal Zeringue