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.