The Living City

Why Cities Don't Need to Be Green to Be Great


By Des Fitzgerald

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 21, 2023. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

A sociologist explores why “green cities” won’t fix everything—and urges us to celebrate urban life as it is  

Everywhere you look, cities are getting greener. The general assumption is clear: if something is unhealthy or bad about urban life today, then nature holds the cure. However, argues sociologist Des Fitzgerald, green spaces are not the panacea that people think.  
In The Living City, Fitzgerald tours the international green city movement that has flourished across the world and discovers the deep, sometimes troubling, roots of our desire to connect cities to nature. Talking to policy makers, planners, scientists, and architects, Fitzgerald suggests that underneath the wish to turn future cities green is another wish: to make the modern city, and perhaps the modern world, disappear altogether. Ultimately, he makes an argument for celebrating the contemporary city as it is—in all its noisy, constructed, artificial glory.   
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  • “Counterintuitive, funny, and provocative.”
    The Financial Times
  • “An amusing, skeptical and refreshing journey through the past and future of urban life.”
    The Telegraph
  • “Fitzgerald surveys a rich array of ideas about nature and analyses the power dynamics at play in urban planning.”
    The Irish Independent
  • “A vivid look at a key controversy in city planning…  readers will relish many of Fitzgerald’s interesting arguments in favor of traditional city structure.” 
  • “Our messy, gritty, unequal, and sometimes dysfunctional cities are pretty good as they are. And often better than the utopian alternatives that are foisted on us these days. This opinionated, outspoken, insightful book champions the city that we have against the utopian city that architects and urbanists keep wanting to build.”
    Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class
  • “An incendiary repudiation of the resurgent fantasy that nature can cure the maladies of contemporary cities and societies. Des Fitzgerald is a sharp critic and a stone-cold realist. His stimulating book is a reminder that there are no simple solutions to global climate change.”
    Eric Klinenberg, author of Palaces for the People
  • “It reads like Jon Ronson let loose on city planners: endlessly funny, outrageously caustic, and seriously smart.”
    John Grindrod, author of Iconicon

On Sale
Nov 21, 2023
Page Count
272 pages
Basic Books

Des Fitzgerald

About the Author

Des Fitzgerald is professor of medical humanities and social sciences at University College Cork. He has been named a “New Generation Thinker” by the BBC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. He lives in Cork, Ireland. 

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