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Extraordinary Cities

Millennia of Moral Syndromes, World-Systems and City/State Relations Peter J. Taylor, FBA Professor of Human Geography, Northumbria University, UK
In this innovative, ambitious and wide-ranging book, Peter Taylor demonstrates that cities are the epicenters of human advancement. In exploring cities as sites through which economies flourish, by harnessing the creative potential of myriad communication networks, the author considers cities from varying temporal and spatial perspectives. Four stories of cities are told: the origins of city networks; the domination of cities by world-empires; the genesis of a singular modern creative interval in which innovation culminates in today’s globalised cities; and finally, the need for cities to act as centres for human creativity to produce a more resilient global society in the current crisis century.
Awarded Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2013
Extent: 448 pp
Hardback Price: £105.00 Web: £94.50
Publication Date: 2013
ISBN: 978 1 78195 480 5
Availability: In Stock
Paperback Price: £35.00 Web: £28.00
Publication Date: 2014
ISBN: 978 1 78195 481 2
Availability: In Stock
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  • Geography
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  • Urban and Regional Studies
  • Cities
  • Urban Studies
Accepting that cities are extraordinary, this book provides an original city-centred narrative of human creativity, past, present and future.

In this innovative, ambitious and wide-ranging book, Peter Taylor demonstrates that cities are the epicenters of human advancement. In exploring cities as sites through which economies flourish, by harnessing the creative potential of myriad communication networks, the author considers cities from varying temporal and spatial perspectives. Four stories of cities are told: the origins of city networks; the domination of cities by world-empires; the genesis of a singular modern creative interval in which innovation culminates in today’s globalised cities; and finally, the need for cities to act as centres for human creativity to produce a more resilient global society in the current crisis century.

Providing a long-term view through which to consider the role of cities in attending to incipient crises of the twenty-first century, this closely argued thesis will prove essential for students and scholars of urban studies, geography and sociology, and all those with a professional interest in, or personal fascination for, cities.
‘In this intellectually far-reaching, all-encompassing, thoroughly researched, methodologically rigorous archaeological account, Taylor sets out myriad arguments that support his notion that cities (all cities) are exceptional. He offers a city-centric analysis of macro-economic change and in so doing disabuses readers of the idea that the state, typically considered the driver of economic change, is in charge. Indeed, he points to the impotence of the state, were it not for the city. In so doing, he masterfully breaks the mold and departs from tradition. . . Taylor engages in an archaeological dig of mammoth proportions never before witnessed in the study of cities. An incredible work. . . Essential.’
– R. Sanders, Choice

‘Peter J. Taylor has produced a sweeping, empirically grounded, defense of cities as fundamental building blocks of long-term, large scale social structures; a way of freeing social science from state-centric bias; and indeed, mankind’s hope. However, the single greatest strength of this complex, seductive, argument is the insistence on treating cities relationally, as process. Here the key to understanding the significance of cities is by studying them in terms of the dynamic networks they form and in their relations to states.’
– Richard E. Lee, Binghamton University, US

‘The founding father of the famous Globalization and World Cities Research Network and think-tank on worldwide links between cities presents this fascinating overview on cities in geohistory. By moving cities to the centre stage, Peter Taylor proposes that concern for states tell only part of the macro-social story of humanity. Cities have been, and are, the engines of innovation. This impressive new book provides new insights into why cities succeed or fail. The book is in the class with broadminded presentations like Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs and Steel.’
– Christian Matthiessen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark and President, International Geographical Union’s Commission on Urban Geography

‘This is a “big” book by Peter Taylor. It tells of the extraordinary world-making powers of cities across the ages, it explains why a state-centric social science has constrained recognition of these powers over the last two centuries, and it outlines a new “indisciplinarity” to help us make sense of a human condition increasingly forged out of the urban. Anyone troubled by the social sciences as we know them, ought to read this book.’
– Ash Amin, Cambridge University, UK and author, Land of Strangers
Contents: Preface Part I: Setting Down and Setting Up 1. A Cities’ Perspective 2. Conceptual Toolkits Part II: Narrative I: Beginning Conjectures 3. City and State Beginnings: Western Asia’s Great Creative Interlude 4. Geographies of Beginning Creative Interludes Part III: Narrative II: World-systems 5. Normal History 6. Making the Modern World-system: Western Europe’s Great Creative Interlude Part IV: Narrative III: Prospective Conjectures – Where Are We and Where Are We Going? 7. Working in an Urban World 8. Towards Green Networks of Cities for the Twenty-first Century References Index