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The Human City

Urbanism for the Rest of Us

Avalailable April 12, 2015 from Agate Publishing

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Around the globe, most new urban development has adhered to similar tenets: tall structures, small units, and high density. The Human Cityquestions these nearly ubiquitous practices, suggesting that they do not consider the needs and desires of the vast majority of people. In fact, exclusively dense urban development, the book suggests, might be doing more harm to future generations than good.

In this book, Joel Kotkin argues that in order to be truly sustainable, built environments must reflect the preferences of most people—and families in particular—even if that means encouraging an urbanist’s worst nightmare: lower-density, suburban development. This approach also could include residential neighborhoods within big cities as well as smaller towns.

Kotkin begins by pondering the purpose of the city and investigating the factors that drive most urban development today. Armed with his own astute research, a deep-seated knowledge of urban history, and sound grasp of economic, political, and social trends, Kotkin pokes holes in what he calls the “retro-urbanist” ideology and offers a refreshing case for dispersion centered on human values. The Human City calls for diverse options to meet the changing needs of people in the different stages of their lives.

To make his argument, Kotkin examines the good, the bad, and the ugly of high-density environments, including the megacities of the developing world and the “glamour zones” of global metropolises. The book itself has its origins in research conducted by the author in Singapore, arguably the best run of all dense cities. He also explores the thriving small cities, revitalized neighborhoods, and vibrant suburban developments that are already providing lower-density  alternatives to centralized, “pack-and-stack” living. Direct, accessible, and thoroughly researched,The Human City reminds us that we are not just the products of demographic and economic forces, but that we can also shape the future we wish to inhabit.


The New Class Conflict

By Joel Kotkin


Released on Sept 1, 2014.
 Published by Telos Press Publishing

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In a way not seen since the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century, America is becoming a nation of increasingly sharply divided classes. Joel Kotkin's The New Class Conflict brea ks down these new divisions for the first time, focusing on the ascendency of two classes: the Tech Oligarchy, based in Silicon Valley; and the Clerisy, which includes much of the nation's policy, media, and academic elites.

The New Class Conflict is written largely from the point of view of those who are, to date, the losers in this class conflict: the middle class. This group, which Kotkin calls the Yeomanry, has been the traditional bulwark of American society, politics, and economy. Yet under pressure from the ascendant Oligarchs and ever more powerful Clerisy, their prospects have diminished the American dream of class mobility that has animated its history and sustained its global appeal.

This book is both a call to arms and a unique piece of analysis about the possible evolution of our society into an increasingly quasi-feudal order. Looking beyond the conventional views of both left and right, conservative and liberal, Kotkin provides a tough but evenhanded analysis of our evolving class system, and suggests some approaches that might restore the middle class to its proper role as the dominant group in the American future.



By Joel Kotkin

Release date: February 4, 2010.Published by The Penguin Press

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In stark contrast to the rest of the world’s advanced nations, the United States is growing at a record rate and, according to census projections, will be home to four hundred million Americans by 2050. This projected rise in population is the strongest indicator of our long-term economic strength, Joel Kotkin believes, and will make us more diverse and more competitive than any nation on earth.

Drawing on prodigious research, firsthand reportage, and historical analysis, TheNext Hundred Million reveals how this unprecedented growth will take physical shape and change the face of America. The majority of additional hundred million Americans will find their homes in suburbia, though the suburbs of tomorrow will not resemble the Levittowns of the 1950s or the sprawling exurbs of the late twentieth century. The suburbs of the twenty-first century will be less reliant on major cities for jobs and other amenities and, as a result, more energy efficient. Suburbs will also be the melting pots of the future as more and more immigrants opt for dispersed living over crowded inner cities and the majority in the United States becomes nonwhite by 2050.

The Next Hundred Million provides a vivid snapshot of America in 2050 by focusing not on power brokers, policy disputes, or abstract trends, but rather on the evolution of the more intimate units of American society—families, towns, neighborhoods, industries. It is upon the success or failure of these communities, Kotkin argues, that the American future rests.


The City: A Global History

Published by Modern Library.

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Foreign editions available in Portuguese, Chinese (Social Science Press), and Spanish (Debate Press) as well as from Orion Books in the United Kingdom. Japanese and Korean editions are also available.

Cities are the fulcrum of civilization. In this short, authoritative yet winningly informal account, urbanist Joel Kotkin examines the evolution of cities and urban life over thousands of years. He begins with the religious roots of urbanism in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and China, and takes us to emergence of the Classical City; Byzantium and the cities of the Middle East; the rise of Venice and subsequent commercial city-empires; the industrial city (from London to Shanghai to Detroit); and on to the post-industrial, suburban realities of today. He concludes with a shrewd diagnosis of the problems and crises facing cities in the 21st-Century.

Unlike other books on cities, Kotkin's is truly global in scope (even Lewis Mumford confined his vision to the West). For Kotkin, cities are not merely "machines for living" but embodiments of the highest ideals: how we can live, cooperate and create together. In looking at the history of city life as a continuous whole, THE CITY is nothing less than a breathtaking account of the human achievement itself.

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The New Geography

Available now in paperback from Random House

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From one of America's most credible and visionary forecasters the first look at how the digital revolution is changing where and how we live and work in the bricks-and-mortar world. Historically unprecedented forces are at work buffeting cities, suburbs, and towns across the country. In The New Geography, internationally renowned economic and social-trend forecaster Joel Kotkin takes their first full measure. Kotkin focuses on the digital revolution's surprising impact on cities: their traditional role as the centers of creativity and the crossroads for trade and culture is becoming ever more essential in a globalized information-age economy.

But there will be big winners and big losers among them, and Kotkin explains which cities are best equipped to thrive and which are fated to decline. He also identifies new species of communities: Nerdistans—high-end, self-contained, office park-oriented suburbs, built to be attractive to a certain class of techie, and Valhallas, wealthy rural enclaves for information-age plutocrats.

The New Geography is a brilliant beachhead onto a subject that affects us all.

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In this original and explosive work, Joel Kotkin reveals the shared traits that have helped certain dispersed ethnic groups-among them the Jews, British, Japanese, Indians, and Chinese-to triumph in the international arenas of business, technology and communications. Kotkin shows how the end of the Cold War and the erosion of national trade barriers have made the impact of these "global tribes" greater than ever, and he offers startling predictions of how specific ethnic groups will dominate the future.

"If you want to learn how ethnic networks can work to their members' advantage. Kotkin has literally written the book, and done it well." -The Washington Post



"Revealing. . . . Kotkin's theme is that ethnic groups seeking economic gain can do good. The tribes Kotkin has in mind are those that combine an enduring ethnic identity with a cosmopolitan outlook and a passion for knowledge."

-U.S. News & World Report



"A challenging analysis of how the world really works."

-Kirkus Reviews

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Joel on

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Watch Joel in this feature on the role of central planning in Los Angeles. View large version.

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"Greenurbia is the suburbs of the future. The suburbs of the 1950s were bedroom communities for people who commuted into the city. Today, there’s much more employment in the suburbs, and the big change is the number of people working full-time or part-time at home. Having people commute from one computer screen to another doesn’t make sense."

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Praise for The Next Hundred Million

Kotkin has a striking ability to envision how global forces will shape daily family life, and his conclusions can be thought-provoking as well as counterintuitive. It's amazing there isn't more public discussion about the enormous changes ahead, and reassuring to have this talented thinker on the case. — Jennifer Ludden, NPR national desk correspondent

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