I was in Kinokuniya Singapore browsing for books when I chanced upon this book. The title caught my attention because I was thinking of getting a book that can share with me the history of how cities (or urbanism) develops and I was starting to develop interest in how to build Smart Cities. Why Smart Cities? Well because it can take advantage of my current background and that is Economics and Artificial Intelligence and it will have a larger positive impact to society if done right. There are currently a lot of talk on building cities that takes advantage of intelligent technologies but I have yet to see any successful "smart cities" yet and I will like to know the reasons for it.
Bought the book and started reading about it. So the author, Prof Monica L Smith, works at UCLA Department of Antropology. Her research are mostly about ancient cities and the activities carried out in them, referencing from here Wiki page.
Her description of ancient cities was quite detailed, and in the book, she broke it down into several components, talking about infrastructure, lifestyles, the middle classes, clothing etc. Basically, for any cities to work, you have to look at it as a "system" that has an input and output followed by flow and networks. Input can be things like food, oil, water etc and output will be like carbon dioxide, waste, dirty water etc. Its imperative for any cities to ensure that the flow is continued without any blockage or hindrance, that the network is well-connected to ensure flow can move through.
A few things to note: In our modern society currently one-use plastics has brought with it a lot of convenience and also a scourge we need to get rid of...but do you know that in ancient cities, there are also one-use utensils? They are part of the pottery, that archaeologist discovered. Another thing, the clothes that we wear, to tell people our social status? Not new again, it has been around for a very long time as well, thus fashion is not a new thing actually. There are many other interesting nuggets that I will leave it to you to find out more.
The book gave me many new perspectives of a city, the gathering of people and the economics of scale it provided, plus jobs and transport. Its a very interesting book for anyone who is looking to understand urban planning and its challenges.
Overall for me is a 4.5 stars out of 5. Have a read to understand more about the cities that most of us grew up in and perhaps more of us will come together and save our planet from global warming, after the perspectives from the book. :)