What We Are Reading Today: Metropolis by Ben Wilson

What We Are Reading Today: Metropolis by Ben Wilson
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Updated 12 November 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Metropolis by Ben Wilson

What We Are Reading Today: Metropolis by Ben Wilson

This is an impressive, comprehensive and wide-ranging history of global cities.

Historian Ben Wilson, author of bestselling and award-winning books on British history, “tells the grand, glorious story of how city living has allowed human culture to flourish,” said a review in goodreads.com. 

“It’s a huge topic and a huge book that views cities throughout history not just through the history of that city itself but looks at themes that are mirrored throughout history,” said the review. 

Wilson “studies the impact of verticality in New York City, the sprawl of Los Angeles, and the eco-reimagining of 21st-century Shanghai. Lively, erudite, page turning, and irresistible, Metropolis is a grand tour of human achievement,” the review added.

“The way Wilson tells the story is really enjoyable, with a city being focused on for a certain period, and highlighting a certain feature,” it said.

There is a little mention of coronavirus at the beginning of the book, which was obviously added as many people are moving out of cities currently, trying to escape the close proximity with others who could spread the disease.


What We Are Reading Today: Gangsters and Other Statesmen by Danilo Mandic

Updated 03 December 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Gangsters and Other Statesmen by Danilo Mandic

What We Are Reading Today: Gangsters and Other Statesmen by Danilo Mandic

Separatism has been on the rise across the world since the end of the Cold War, dividing countries through political strife, ethnic conflict, and civil war, and redrawing the political map. Gangsters and Other Statesmen examines the role transnational mafias play in the success and failure of separatist movements, challenging conventional wisdom about the interrelation of organized crime with peacebuilding, nationalism, and state making.

Danilo Mandic conducted fieldwork in the disputed territories of Kosovo and South Ossetia, talking to mobsters, separatists, and policymakers in war zones and along major smuggling routes. In this timely and provocative book, he demonstrates how globalized mafias shape the politics of borders in torn states, shedding critical light on an autonomous nonstate actor that has been largely sidelined by considerations of geopolitics, state-centered agency, and ethnonationalism. Blending extensive archival sleuthing and original ethnographic data with insights from sociology and other disciplines, Mandic argues that organized crime can be a fateful determinant of state capacity, separatist success, and ethnic conflict.

Putting mafias at the center of global processes of separatism and territorial consolidation, Gangsters and Other Statesmen raises vital questions and urges reconsideration of a host of separatist cases in West Africa, the Middle East, and East Europe.