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Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers

A revolutionary reimagining of the cities we live in, the air above us, and what goes on in the earth beneath our feet
Today we live in a world that can no longer be read as a two-dimensional map, but must now be understood as a series of vertical strata that reach from the satellites that encircle our planet to the tunnels deep within the ground. In Vertical, Stephen Graham rewrites the city at every level: how the geography of inequality, politics, and identity is determined in terms of above and below.

Starting at the edge of earth’s atmosphere and, in a series of riveting studies, descending through each layer, Graham explores the world of drones, the city from the viewpoint of an aerial bomber, the design of sidewalks and the hidden depths of underground bunkers. He asks: why was Dubai built to be seen from Google Earth? How do the super-rich in São Paulo live in their penthouses far above the street? Why do London billionaires build vast subterranean basements? And how do the technology of elevators and subversive urban explorers shape life on the surface and subsurface of the earth?

Vertical will make you look at the world around you anew: this is a revolution in understanding your place in the world.

Reviews

  • “Roll over Jane Jacobs: here’s urban geography as it looks like through the eye of a Predator at 25,000 feet. A fundamental and very scary report from the global red zone.”
  • “Look, you’re just going to have to read this book … After a while, you begin to wonder whether books like this will be allowed to be published for much longer.”
  • “Superb … Graham builds on the writings of Mike Davis and Naomi Klein who have attempted to expose the hidden corporate and military structures behind everyday life.”
  • “A detailed and intense forensics of new urban frontiers, laboratories of the extreme where experiments with new urban conditions are currently being undertaken.”
  • “A rigorously researched, pioneering book packed with disturbing and at times astonishing information.”
  • “In this panoramic, at times jaw-dropping book, Stephen Graham describes how in recent years the built environment around the world, both above and below ground, has become dramatically more vertical – and more unequal… sharp and memorable… dizzyingly restless… Cities feel different once you’ve read it”
  • Vertical is an intellectually demanding book that demands that the reader radically revise how to look at cities. The compelling geo-political parallels between power and verticality make it impossible to see cities the same way.”
  • “Graham’s wonderfully dazzling cross-sectional tour puts forth a powerful argument as to why our conventional ‘flat’ reading of the world needs to be re-calibrated to meaningfully engage the vertically layered reality of society … one of the most important books on cities of the recent past.”
  • “Graham’s exciting, journalistic study represents illustrative and narrative cross sections of his global research into urbanism, sociology, and telecommunications over the last 25 years. Enthusiastically recommended.”
  • “Seeing cities as Gordian knots of geopolitics, [Graham] gathers an impressive range of case studies to bolster his analysis.”

Blog

  • The Militarization of Everything: A Reading List

     

    Obama had a dismal record of expanding the US drone program and killing civilians in the name of US security. His expansion of executive power to authorize drone attacks around the world has set a dangerous precedent for Trump to continue the US policy of war from above, in which innocent civilians are seen as collateral damage. The defense budget of the US ($622 billion spent on the military in 2016) accounts for almost 40 percent of the global total. 

    From Trump’s further militarization of our borders, trying to build a wall between the US and Mexico, banning people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US, and increasing funding to militarize local police departments, now more than ever the administration’s embrace of military tactics at home and abroad must be resisted.

    Start by learning about the history of US imperialism and militarization with 40% off all books on the Militarization of Everything Reading List, with bundled ebooks where available and free shipping worldwide.

    The sale ends Sunday, February 12 at midnight UTC. 

    Click here to activate the discount.

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  • Infrastructures of Empire and Resistance


    Demolition of "The Jungle" migrant camp in Calais, October 2016. 

    In late October 2016, I packed my bags for a short trip abroad, leaving a region raw with struggle over the racial and colonial violence of infrastructure. In places like Standing Rock, Flint, Muskrat Falls, Toronto, and Baltimore, conflicts raged over the targeted violence of energy, water, border, and policing systems. Movements for Black lives, for migrants’ rights, for indigenous sovereignty, and for economic and environmental justice were increasingly mapping violent infrastructure systems with their direct actions and analyses. The water protectors’ camps at Standing Rock were large and growing, animated by spirit, ceremony, and unprecedented gathering as they halted the Dakota Access Pipeline. The largest prison strike in history, 45 years after the Attica uprising, was calling out the inhumanity of American carceral infrastructure. Black organizers were denouncing infrastructure crises like the one poisoning Flint, Michigan, suggesting these would be the defining struggles for Black communities to come. More than 50 Indigenous Nations from across Turtle Island had just signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, with the goal of protecting Indigenous lands and waters from all proposed pipeline, tanker, and rail projects. In my hometown of Toronto, Black Lives Matter members were making claims for the protection of “Black Infrastructure.” Blockades of damns, ports, highways, and rail infrastructure had become frequent news virtually everywhere, except for in the reporting of the mainstream media.

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  • Staff Picks: Books of the Year 2016—Chosen by Verso

    The antidote to the ills of 2016 has to be found in a book. As Verso staffers have found over the course of this year, we turn to books for nourishment and resources to help us make sense of and respond to this monumental year and times to come. As much as we publish books for both these purposes, there are others out there doing much of the same good work. So once again, here's our non-Verso staff picks from Verso staff in London and New York!


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