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May 15, 2013 / Leo Hollis

Review: The Metro

 

In a dizzying global tour of the modern metropolis, author Leo Hollis is determined to reclaim the city ‘from the grumbles of the sceptical and the stuck-in- the-mud naysayers’. Urban living, he contends, is good for us, and instead of denigrating the ‘impersonal, superficial, transitory’ relationships of the city, we should realise they are the very connections which facilitate creativity, wealth generation and communities that would otherwise not exist.

Hollis cites a diverse range of examples, from the ‘Disneyland with the death penalty’ that is the perfectly ordered capitalist paradigm of Singapore, to the opportunities that are to be found for even new arrivals to the slum district of Dharavi in Mumbai. Hollis’s intellectual gadfly approach as he flits between statistics, philosophers and literary references can be hard to digest but there’s a persuasive energy to this optimistic celebration. The question remains how humanity can ensure that trust and sustainability are part of the increasingly crowded city of the future but Hollis at least gives us a vision to build on in the coming decades.

Ben Felsenburg

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