Streetlife: How Cities Made Modern Europe

In This Review

Streetlife: How Cities Made Modern Europe
By Leif Jerram
Oxford University Press, USA, 2011
352 pp. $35.00
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The history of Europe over the past century has unfolded in, and remains inscribed in, the public spaces of its cities. Based on this premise, this original and engaging book offers a unique, street-level view of European history. Politics have played out on the European street through strikes, revolutions, and coups but have ultimately achieved bourgeois tranquility. Culture -- opera, jazz, nightclubs, soccer stadiums, cinemas, television studios -- has become essentially urban. Cities have spawned new lifestyles, from novel sexual mores to complex ethnic and racial identities. The mass planning of cities to achieve environmental, epidemiological, ideological, and aesthetic objectives has become a model for state intervention in the economy as a whole. Indeed, perhaps the greatest danger facing European cities today is that government policy threatens the creativity, diversity, and chaos that define the continent’s identity.