Dead Cities

And Other Tales

A riveting exploration of the tensions between nature and the built environment, by a leading urbanist

In his most brilliantly syncretic writing yet, radical urban theorist Mike Davis explores the combat zone that is contemporary urban America, a ceaseless battle waged both within cities and against nature. Using environmental science as his frame of understanding, Davis examines themes of urban life today—white flight, deindustrialization, housing and job segregation and discrimination, and federal policy—and looks at areas he calls “national sacrifice zones,” military landscapes that simulated warfare and arms production have rendered uninhabitable.

Davis begins our apocalyptically inflected tour with a trip to New York’s Ground Zero. He then takes us to “German Village,” a Utah wasteland that was once a test site for Allied science advisors to rehearse the perfect plan for destroying Berlin, and to the diabolic miracle of Las Vegas, where environmental terrorism is practiced in the name of urban development. Davis also hits Los Angeles, the frontline of the “Second Civil War” sparked by American apartheid, and which lies waiting to be ignited in cities across the country.

With wit, compassion, and an eye for the absurd and the unjust, Mike Davis has begun a long overdue dialogue on urban science in this prophetic new book.


“A rare combination of an author, Rachel Carson and Upton Sinclair all in one.”
—Susan Faludi
“The first to extend this powerful mixture of environmental, political and socioeconomic analysis on a worldwide scale.”
—William L. Fox, San Francisco Chronicle
“Gripping. . . . A book of substantial contemporary relevance as well as great historical interest.”
—Amartya Sen, The New York Times Book Review

Books by Mike Davis

The Monster at Our Door
The Global Threat of Avian Flu

Mike Davis

Under the Perfect Sun
The San Diego Tourists Never See

Mike Davis, Kelly Mayhew, Jim Miller

Evil Paradises
Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism

Mike Davis, Daniel Bertrand Monk