Panel Discussion on Daniel Brook’s A History of Future Cities

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 — 6:00 p.m
20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor
New York, New York


Join Public Books and the Institute for Public Knowledge in celebrating the publication of Daniel Brook’s new book, A History of Future Cities. The author will be in dialogue with Ulrich Baer, Professor of German and Comparative Literature and Vice Provost for Arts, Humanities and Multicultural Affairs at NYU, and Harvey Molotch, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and Sociology at NYU.


A History of Future Cities is a pioneering exploration of four cities where East meets West and past becomes future: St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Dubai.

On May 27, 1703, Tsar Peter the Great founded a new capital on a barren Baltic marsh. Modeled on Amsterdam, he believed it would erase Russian backwardness and usher in a modernized, Westernized future. In the nineteenth-century Age of Imperialism, the British rebuilt Bombay as a tropical London, while three Western powers made Shanghai look just like home. And in our own time, the sheikh of Dubai has endeavored to transform his desert city into a Vegas-esque skyscraper-studded global hub.

The cultural and historical threads that connect these cities and their conflicted embrace of modernity are brought into relief in Daniel Brook’s captivating mix of history and reportage—a story of architects and authoritarians, artists and revolutionaries who take these facsimiles of the West and turn them into crucibles of non-Western modernity. A History of Future Cities is both a crucial reminder of globalization’s long march and an inspiring look into the possibilities of our Asian Century.


Daniel Brook is a journalist whose work has appeared in publications including HarpersThe Nation, and Slate, and the author of The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America. His architecture writing won the 2010 Winterhouse Award for Design Writing and Criticism. To research A History of Future Cities, Brook lived for a month each in St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Dubai and conducted archival research on a semester-long fellowship at the Library of Congress. Originally from New York and educated at Yale University, Brook lives in New Orleans.


RSVP: events@publicbooks.org