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  • Published: 24 September 2020
  • ISBN: 9781473580831
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: Audio Download


A History of Humankind's Greatest Invention

Metropolis is a dazzling, globe-spanning history of humankind's greatest invention: the city.

A dazzling, globe-spanning history of humankind's greatest invention: the city.

From its earliest incarnations 7,000 years ago to the megalopolises of today, the story of the city is the story of civilisation. Although cities have only ever been inhabited by a tiny minority of humanity, the heat they generate has sparked most of our political, social, commercial, scientific and artistic revolutions. It is these world-changing, epoch-defining moments that are the focus of Ben Wilson's book, as he takes us on a thrilling global tour of the key metropolises of history, from Urk, Athens, Alexandria and Rome, to Baghdad, Lübeck and Venice, to Lisbon, Amsterdam, London, Paris, New York, LA, Shanghai and Lagos.

Managing and re-imagining the city is already one of the most pressing issues of the twenty-first century. With over half the world's population now living in cities, and with the cosmopolitanism of the major world metropolises under attack from revived nationalism and hostility to globalisation, it has never been more important to understand cities and the role they have played in making us who we are.

Rich with individual characters, scenes and snapshots of daily life, Metropolis combines scholarship and storytelling in a terrifically engaging, stylishly written history of the world through an urban lens.

  • Published: 24 September 2020
  • ISBN: 9781473580831
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: Audio Download

About the author

Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson is the author of five critically acclaimed books, including What Price Liberty?, for which he received the Somerset Maugham Award; the Sunday Times bestseller Empire of the Deep; and, most recently, Heyday: The Dawn of the Global Age. Born in London in 1980, he has worked in television, broadcast on the radio in several countries, and writes regularly for publications such as The Times, Daily Telegraph and Prospect. He lives in Suffolk, UK.

Praise for Metropolis

Brilliant... Enchanting... This is a history of the world told through its most buccaneering units... And it is full of quirky facts about London.

Arjun Neil Alim, Evening Standard

Bryson-esque levels of fascination and intrigue... An informative and riveting piece of work.

Ape to Gentleman

Wilson sets out to match Mumford's sweep in Metropolis, and he brilliantly synthesises the forces that make cities hum.

John Gapper, Financial Times

[A] fascinating history of cities.

James Marriott, The Times

A fascinating look at the highs and lows of inner-city living, from skyscrapers to slums.

BBC History Magazine

Compendious and fascinating... Metropolis is crammed with local colour; and what gives the historical schema its real flavour is the deviations it allows... It makes you understand why we opted for cities in the first place, and why, despite the doom and gloom, I doubt we will be quitting them any time soon.

Tim Smith-Laing, Daily Telegraph

Capacious, entertaining and rich in wondrous detail, this is a work of history that pulls of the startling feat of measuring up to the immensity of its subject matter.

Tom Holland, Literary Review

Wilson [is] an erudite, creative guide to the history of civilization through its great urban areas... He broadens the book's focus beyond the usual Western suspects... An excellent account.

Eben Shapiro, Time Magazine

[An] omnivorous, adventurous and generous history of the city... Studded with fascinating facts handled with dexterity.

Daniel Lewis, Arts Desk

Ben Wilson takes us on an exhilarating tour of more than two dozen cities and thousands of years... Metropolis is a bold undertaking that makes for gripping reading.

Robert Sullivan, New York Times Book Review

[A] towering achievement... Reading this book is like visiting an exhilarating city for the first time-dazzling, frazzling, sometimes both simultaneously. Metropolis teems with information and observations.

Howard Schneider, The Wall Street Journal

A supremely wide-ranging study of the world's great cities.

Dan Jones, Daily Express *Books of the Year*

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