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The Four Lost Cities, Book Review Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1428

Book Review

Several interesting books record historical events in the form of writings and manuscripts while painting a vivid image of what the past held at hand. The book ‘Four Lost Cities’ is an excellent example of the historical information used widely for entertainment and educational purposes. Annalee Newitz, a renowned scientific writer, takes the audience on an engaging and brainstorming journey into the profound history of urban life in ‘Four Lost Cities.’ Newitz investigates the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each nucleus of an advanced and powerful modern civilization across centuries and the globe. The Prehistoric site of Atalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman getaway town of Pompeii on Italy’s southern coast, the Romanesque megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the native metropolis Cahokia, which sat alongside the Mississippi where East St. Louis is currently, are the four lost cities.

Newitz visits all four sites and gives an analysis through the use of cutting-edge archaeology studies. He exposes how the historic towns were devastated by a combination of environmental upheavals and political instability. In addition, Newitz exposes the often-nameless workers—slaves, women, immigrants, and manual laborers that built the cities. They constructed these cities and erected monuments that lasted generations as he traces the earliest stages of urban planning. Four Lost Cities is a voyage into the old, and it may even tell much about the fate of the future. It foresees a tomorrow in which the vast majority of the persons on Earth would live and carry out their activities in cities.[1] This book points out a great deal of urbanism that fuels the world’s current functions and points to the conspicuous future held in the hand of urbanization.

While writing the book, Newitz maintains a clear flow of thought, especially concerning the book’s title. The writer ensures that the audience reading this beautiful work attains all the essential information about all the highlighted cities and, most importantly, the strong connection between the cities located in different continents regarding urbanization. In the book, the author employs a lot of vivid descriptions, especially in the narration of the scenery of the cities and the nature surrounding their ruins.[2] He describes the historical background of the cities construction by highlighting the dedication of the labor involved in the construction and the precision the builders deployed. The book’s introductory part highlights the primary purpose by mainly pointing out the tragedies that various urbanizations met and highlighting the nature and process of recovering from the loss suffered.

As a reader of this book, the effectiveness of this approach was quite impressive in highlighting the origin and progress of the different urbanizations. Moreover, the author employs a precise blend between the issue of urbanization and the fate of humanity, mainly when the issues at play include natural disasters and human influences such as corruption and other issues.[3]In his approach, the author also issues a critical warning while likening the past experiences of the lost cities to the current urbanization. He points out the significant risk of spreading toxic urbanism that may lead to the fall of urbanizations.

In his writing, the author also employs a clear connection between the urban experiences in these towns located in different places and at different historical times. Thus, the historical period between the establishments is a difference of many centuries between urbanization, with the oldest city being Çatalhöyük.[4] This city marked the start of urbanization after a long culture of nomadism as portrayed by the human beings living at that age. Here, the human beings resulted in farming and settled with their city holding up to 20,000 people. However, being the first city to be built, the surrounding population always wondered about the nature of the designs employed in the urbanization, with a large number of the people in that age familiar with the structures of villages.

The second urbanization is Pompeii, and the author lists a variety of characteristics about this city in particular. This roman city powerfully embodied an enormous number of cultural practices that Romans cherished, and these characteristics are displayed in archaeological discoveries. Apart from the first city, Pompeii was not lost, and it was re-excavated to form a coastal town on the shores of the Mediterranean as when the city was standing in its full glory.[5] The next city is characterized by high levels of intellectual capacity, as portrayed in its engineering designs. The city was highly known for its hydro-engineering structures, especially the construction of a baray which at the moment held a great significance in terms of solving natural calamity issues, especially drought and floods. The designs were also influenced politically, with the leaders playing a significant role in deciding the nature of the designs. This urbanization was and is still a great tourist attraction, with individuals reviewing the nature of the designs. The presence of a reconstruction plan on the city site indicates the city’s impact on the history of urbanization.

The last city is found in the Americas in the USA, to be specific. However, Cahokia city had more significant similarities with the first city, especially like the city’s rise. Before the arrival of the Europeans, Cahokia city was the largest in the USA, having risen from a small riverside village on the sides of the Mississippi River.[6]. The city dwellers built several infrastructures, including pyramids and several elevated walkways. A part of the infrastructure included walkways, homes, farms, and ceremonial centers for public celebrations.

Despite the different ages and unique infrastructural designs portrayed in the cities, the reasons that create a strong connection between the cities are highlighted author when it comes to the nature of the fall of the cities.[7] The main characteristic of these cities is that after they fully bloom in terms of their potential, the inhabitants abandon the cities. A myriad of common factors significantly propelled the abandonment despite the difference in the period of existence.

These factors that brought up abandonment as an issue in the cities include prolonged periods of political instability, environmental crisis, and general abandonment of the cities. The author points out political leaders as aesthetic beings who greatly invest in the beauty of the designs surrounding their jurisdiction on political instability. This is seen in the city of Angkor and the city of Çatalhöyük. Due to the major focus on the beauty associated with the city. Vital services are ignored, leading to poor roads, poor service outlets, and minimal investment in sewers.

Apart from poor service delivery, the central connection between these cities is natural climatic conditions. From the start of urbanization, natural calamities determine the prosperity and the population held in urbanization. For example, the city of Pompeii was characterized by a series of natural calamities, especially earthquakes.[8]. These natural activities led to its abandonment, especially the volcanic eruption that covered the city with volcanic ash. Similarly, natural occurrences of drought led to the abandonment of Çatalhöyük city. The people had a history of nomadism, and hence on the onset of the drought, the individuals abandoned the city. The same case applies to Angkor, which suffered a series of droughts and floods when the baray overflooded. The nature of these connections provides more excellent sync on the preceding activities, resulting in the abandonment of civilizations.[9] Most of them are natural occurrences with historical proof. Therefore, my thought is that the connections are persuasive. Also, in this case, the connections occur at different historic times, but they all attain a similar result: the abandonment of the various urbanizations; therefore, it is persuasive.

While writing his book, Newitz incorporates archeological evidence that highlights the nature of the lives lived by the people in the above-listed cities. For example, in the city of Cahokia, archaeologists excavated dozens of house effigies that were burned at once[10]. This portrayed a culture that entailed moving on once the purpose of the built structure was attained. Here the dwellers used a structure, and once they were done with the structure, they would burn the structure and build a new one on top of it.

Bibliography

Newitz, Annalee. 2021. Four lost cities. [s.l.]: w w Norton.

[1] Newitz, Annalee. 2021. Four lost cities. [s.l.]: w w Norton.

[2] Newitz, Annalee. 2021. Four lost cities. [s.l.]: w w Norton.

[3] Newitz, Annalee. 2021. Four lost cities. [s.l.]: w w Norton.

[4] Newitz, Annalee. 2021. Four lost cities. [s.l.]: w w Norton.

[5] Newitz, Annalee. 2021. Four lost cities. [s.l.]: w w Norton.

[6] Newitz, Annalee. 2021. Four lost cities. [s.l.]: w w Norton.

[7] Newitz, Annalee. 2021. Four lost cities. [s.l.]: w w Norton.

[8] Newitz, Annalee. 2021. Four lost cities. [s.l.]: w w Norton.

[9] Newitz, Annalee. 2021. Four lost cities. [s.l.]: w w Norton.

[10]Newitz, Annalee. 2021. Four lost cities. [s.l.]: w w Norton.

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