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Distributed for Reaktion Books


From Vision to Metropolis

Distributed for Reaktion Books


From Vision to Metropolis

Chicago has been called the “most American of cities” and the “great American city.” Not the biggest or the most powerful, nor the richest, prettiest, or best, but the most American. How did it become that? And what does it even mean? At its heart, Chicago is America’s great hub. And in this book, Chicago magazine editor and longtime Chicagoan Whet Moser draws on Chicago’s social, urban, cultural, and often scandalous history to reveal how the city of stinky onions grew into the great American metropolis it is today.

Chicago began as a trading post, which grew into a market for goods from the west, sprouting the still-largest rail hub in America. As people began to trade virtual representations of those goods—futures—the city became a hub of finance and law. And as academics studied the city’s growth and its economy, it became a hub of intellect, where the University of Chicago’s pioneering sociologists shaped how cities at home and abroad understood themselves. Looking inward, Moser explores how Chicago thinks of itself, too, tracing the development of and current changes in its neighborhoods. From Boystown to Chinatown, Edgewater to Englewood, the Ukrainian Village to Little Village, Chicago is famous for them—and infamous for the segregation between them.

With insight sure to enlighten both residents and anyone lucky enough to visit the City of Big Shoulders, Moser offers an informed local’s perspective on everything from Chicago’s enduring paradoxes to tips on its most interesting sights and best eats. An affectionate, beautifully illustrated urban portrait, his book takes us from the very beginnings of Chicago as an idea—a vision in the minds of the region’s first explorers—to the global city it has become.

208 pages | 60 color plates, 40 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2019


Chicago and Illinois

History: Urban History

Travel and Tourism:

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"Former Chicago magazine associate editor Moser explores Chicago’s history, politics, and culture in the latest Cityscopes city-guide series. This is not your typical Rick Steves, Fodor’s, or Lonely Planet guide to a city. Moser has selected the defining moments, people, places, and audacious innovations that make Chicago a one-of-a-kind city. Choosing Moser as author was a good move, given all that he’s learned over the years he’s covered Chicago for local publications, while his literary style brings major historical and cultural happenings to life. He touches on well-known aspects of the city, but also delves into the character of the different neighborhoods and both their glory and seediness. The never-ending migrations of people to Chicago and within the city are richly discussed. The text is accompanied by an eclectic collection of photographs, and a list of recommendations is offered in the back of the book. Visitors, admirers, and residents alike will enjoy referencing this book repeatedly."

Dan Kaplan | Booklist

"Moser, a veteran journalist and former editor of Chicago magazine, aims to take readers past shallow, greatest-hits perceptions of Chicago in this combination guidebook, cultural history, and paean from a longtime resident. . . . Moser’s stylish prose makes this far more than a guidebook. This is an unusual and entertaining look at a great American city."

Publishers Weekly

"Avoiding the pursuit of safe quirkiness and overexposed, ordinary attractions remains the book’s strength. Moser goes past the flashy new stuff. . . . Bully for Moser too that he honors Chicago’s architectural heritage, but doesn’t stick to Sullivan, Wright, and Burnham. . . . Overall, Chicago: From Vision to Metropolis is a heaping spoonful taken from a vast bubbling bigos of history, culture, and experience. Just a taste, really, but a rich, complex, and flavorful one."

Dan Kelly | Third Coast Review

"Tackles the broad strokes of Chicago’s historical evolution before shifting to a series of chapters exploring the city of today. . . . Chicago: From Vision to Metropolis is part of a larger series from Reaktion Books covering cities from Buenos Aires to Beijing. The concept, which Moser ably executes, is to give readers a general sense of the city’s history and contemporary contours. . . . Exactly the sort of thing you can breeze through while sunning at North Avenue."

Chicago Detours

"Whet Moser’s great gift is a knack for condensing vast reams of facts and figures into concise, compulsively readable prose. Equal parts elegance and insight, this book is an invaluable primer on our beloved Chicago—that most contradictory yet American of cities."

Dmitry Samarov, author of "Hack: Stories from a Chicago Cab"

"The best urban writers have the historian’s depth, the playwright’s sense of drama, the poet’s verbal dexterity, and the journalist’s BS-detector: Whet Moser brings all that to bear on these pages. Whether you’re a Chicago lifer, newly arrived, or just visiting, read this book if you want to grasp Chicago."

BIll Savage, Northwestern University

"Along with a concise but richly detailed history of Chicago, Whet Moser has written a fresh portrait of the city today, filled with insights about everything from sociology to hot dogs. Moser is a perceptive guide to his city, with a keen understanding of the reasons why it continues to fascinate."

Robert Loerzel, author of "Alchemy of Bones: Chicago’s Luetgert Murder Case of 1897"

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