Christmas Book Suggestion Numbers Three and Four.

I have long been an admirer of Mike Davis' works on urban geography. They are written with the pace of thrillers, and expose the situation of cities and nature in the modern American west with penetrating intelligence. If like me you tend to mine books for anecdotes, his earlier work on the environment of California, which detailed what would happen in terms of floods and fires were development to continue as it did, and the winds to warm is brilliant. It's called Ecology of Fear.

However, it's Davis' latest book to which I would direct you if like me you haven't bothered about the Christmas presents or are waiting to get paid. Planet of Slums is one of the most interesting and important books I have read this year. It details in clear prose and with simple facts how the attempt to force the global poor off of the land (as in England in the past) and into the workforces of the major cities has resulted in the creation of two hundred thousand slums worldwide. The book is a mine of guides and gems, and short enough to be really striking. I find longer books sometimes lose the thread, though of course I would be pretentiously thinking of Thomas Pynchon or some such and not the 1000 page thing on JFK's killing that I recommended the other day if I had ever bothered to finish a really long book that bored me. If you want a good long fiction book, try William Vollman's epic of the Nazi-Soviet war centred on Shostakovich, Europe Central. Or talk to a human about their life, they're usually more interesting.

Have a look at Planet of Slums. It illuminates turbo-capitalism, and helps explain how human population growth, which ought to be a good thing, might be at the heart of global warming. It follows that we can't stop it till we lift up the poor, and drivel about CO2 won't do anything at all.