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Planet of Slums Paperback – 1 Sep 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; Reprint edition (1 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844671607
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844671601
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

There are over 200,000 slums on earth, situated in some of the most geologically unsound and polluted landscapes. The favelas of Rio de Janiero rest on unstable soils that regularly give way, whole areas of Manila are built on stilts over excrement-clogged rivers, and in Cairo more than a million people use Mameluke Tombs as dwellings, whilst smaller groups are living in abandoned Jewish cemeteries. This brilliant book outlines the catastrophic future of a "surplus humanity" exiled from the formal world economy. It delivers a scathing critique of the retreat of the state and the impact of the "civil society revolution" - which has de-radicalised urban social movements - together with the emergence of bootstrap micro-entrepreneurial remedies, benefiting a small minority and doing nothing to halt the rapid growth of urban poverty. Davis concludes with a provocative take on the "war on terror" as an incipient world war between the American empire and "feral, failed cities", imagining a future of "Orwellian technologies of repression" and a daily response from the slums of "suicide bombers and eloquent explosions". Aimee Shalan, The Guardian --The Guardian

Planet of Slums, by Mike Davis (Verso £8.99) Written in terse, staccato style, this account of some of the world's great slum metropolises is a tough read, urgent and fact-clogged but what facts they are. The poor are ferociously overcrowded (there are four million in one megaslum in Mexico City) and often live on unstable geology or even rubbish dumps, such as the evocatively-named Quarantina outside Beirut. In Cairo, a million people live in the Mameluke Tombs. In Mumbai, an equal number live on the pavements. Some 99.4 per cent of the urban population of Ethiopia live in slums. It comes as no surprise to discover that Baghdad contains one of the world's biggest slum areas. CH --The Independent

About the Author

MacArthur Fellow Mike Davis lives in San Diego. He is the author of Prisoners of the American Dream, City of Quartz, Ecology of Fear, Magical Urbanism, Late Victorian Holocausts, Dead Cities, The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu and Buda's Wagon: A Short History of the Car Bomb.

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Krul on 11 May 2009
Format: Hardcover
Mike Davis is always someone to seize an opportunity to decry the horrible situation somewhere, but in this case, it is an exposé that cannot be made often enough. "Planet of Slums" is a catalogue of the institutional failures, the despicable destruction, the filth and pollution, the poverty, misery and want, the disease and cynicism, in short the Verelendung of the worldwide poor that is the inevitable and eternal result of the capitalist mode of production. Within three decades, a stunning two billion people will live in the slums of megacities in the Third World, where all public services are absent, there are no toilets or drinking water, and where even the poor exploit the poor.

Mike Davis, as usual, pulls no punches and takes no prisoners in his description of the effects of the Washington Consensus on these undeveloped nations. Refuting the ideological mythologies of self-help such as De Sotoism and microlending, he demonstrates that the situation in the Third World is bleak and will get bleaker still. The longer the current order of neoliberalism and Structural Adjustment Programmes, led by such philanthropical heros as World Bank director Paul Wolfowitz, goes on, the more the absolute poverty, immiseration and loss of dignity of the world's poor will continue, and the greater inequality will become. Already one-third of the world's workforce is unemployed or underemployed, and worldwide average income has decreased the past decades. The megacities of the global south will become centers of hyper-alienation, and the inevitable result can only be the destruction of the current order, or the destruction of the world. The world's five billion poor are at our door - hear them knock!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Spin on 27 July 2009
Format: Paperback
Would you believe that, according to official international surveys and reports, the U.S.A has more slum-dwellers than Ethiopia? But how, you may ask, do you define a "slum". A New York slum-dweller would surely be "better off" (relatively speaking) than an Ethiopian slum-dweller. For a start, the New-Yorker has a T.V. and running water. In fact, they don't. The poor of the West live in the same conditions as the poor of the East and South. This book redefines your concept of poverty and puts forward such brutal and heart-breaking facts as to make you wish that your voice, along with all the poverty-stricken, could be heard in our so-called "civilised" world. This book makes you realise that pop-stars and well-meaning charities can do nothing to change the rise of mega-slums. Only the abandonment of a capitalist philosophy, a capitalist culture, a capitalist mode of thinking, can do that. In short, only you can. Read this book and be astounded at the true nature of cities, the pride of humankind's development.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By sarbern on 2 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
Very interesting book on the system of slums and not only their inner workings but also how they interact with the economy and greater government.
Some interesting data and numbers to consider too but seeing as this was published about five years ago now, I can only imagine how much worse it has gotten since then.
If you're interested in knowing more about slums then this is a great starter book I would say.
Davis also writes very well and the language he uses makes for a very leisurely light read.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By lewism on 11 Jun. 2007
Format: Hardcover
The scale and velocity of world population increase over the last fifty years has been unprecedented in human history. Urbanisation, with over a billion people living in cities has become the key signature of this growth, with the urban population for the first time greater than in the country. These facts are startling, if common knowledge, however they are not much examined in the mainstream. Mike Davis's book looks at this global phenomenon in detail, and shows clearly how the city has been turned into slums, and how poverty has been urbanised.

Slum mega cities have strange geographies, and densities that defy analysis and seeming logic. Here Peri urbanism where city and country are virtually indivisible is covered as is the continual subdivision of wealth and free space by mega slums that turn earthquake prone mountainsides into dense housing. These city slums are where the worlds problems will start, and where they must be solved.

But if you are looking for light reading this is not it, and although global capitalism is firmly blamed for this there are no fixes suggested in this book either. This story though is worth telling and the book is a powerfully argued proof that much of the world is suffering under impossible odds.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Marxist cultural critic Davis's latest book tackles the global problem of the slums (he uses the U.N. definition: "characterized by overcrowding, poor or informal housing, inadequate access to safe water and sanitation, and insecurity of tenure."), which are exploding at a geometric rate across the world. Alas, at the end of this relatively brief work, we have learned of the scale and scope of the problem in mind-numbing detail, and we have learned the source of the problem (at least according to Davis), but that's about it. Alas, anyone interested in a book with this title probably already has a sense of both, and what is utterly lacking in Davis's analysis is any way forward.

Granted, if there were obvious solutions, we'd probably know about those as well -- the real problem is that Davis really, really likes to have it both ways. In other words, there since there is no policy or proposed solution he likes, he attacks all options, even opposite ones, with equal venom, leading one to wonder what the point is. For example: at one point he says that new "periurban" slums lack the community spirit of the inner-city slums people are being relocated from, but then elsewhere he says that this positive community spirit is all a myth and that all slums are Darwinian proving grounds. Governments that don't build public housing come under attack, and those that do also come under attack for it being substandard. Slums are depicted as terrible, and slum clearances are depicted as equally terrible. Sure, none of this is "good", in any sense of the word, but Davis doesn't have anything else to offer either.
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