How the Modern Cities Recover from Disaster by Lawrence Vale/Thomas

The Book Review of “The Resilient City: How Modern Cities Recover from Disaster” by Lawrence Vale and Thomas Campanella.


This text is written jointly by Lawrence Vale and Thomas Campanella. It was published in Oxford, 2005 and has three hundred and seventy-six pages besides the initial pages numbered in roman style up to xiv.

According to the book, although towns are often shaped through destruction and construction, the specific history, forms, as well as issues of city rebuilding, emerged remarkably pertinent in the US following September 11, 2001. The distortion of the World Trade Hub, the major narration of that distortion by American Politicians as well as the media passages that mimicked them produced a recently lifted interest in the manner in which cities react to calamity in the context of both famous culture as well as academia. This text is among the numerous edited types that have struggled with post-disaster reconstruction at the beginning of September 11.

To diversified levels, the historical moments of these texts, that is, the outcome of September 11 has demanded their articulation of the history of rebuilding. In the scenario of The Resilient City: How Modern Cities Recover from Disaster, this demanding is particularly consequential. Concurrently, nevertheless, through the details of the essay gathered within it, The Resilient City extremely supersedes past edited series on urban rebuilding that have emerged from September 11. Also, indeed most beneficially, The Resilient City composes several essays that compress as well as elongates their author’s past book-length tackling of their subjects. These subjects are Edward T. Linenthal found in Oklahoma City as well as Max Page based in New York amongst others (Vale & Campanella, 2005).


The editors of the text, Lawrence Vale as well as Thomas Campanella, structured it with a comprehensive claim that despite the fact that the cities have been damaged in the entire history, they exhibit, in nearly each scenario, there has been  the mythic Phoenix. In the text, the editors contend that a worldwide feature of urban occurrence seemed to become progressively seldom in order a big city to be genuinely or constantly lost. Comparing “resilience” with future tragedy “recovery,” the text intends to expound, then it explores the modernization ability of contemporary cities as well as understanding the manner in which the contemporary cities heal from the tragedy (Vale & Campanella, 2005).


The reactions to this inquiry are split into three areas. To begin with there is “Narratives of Resilience,” composes of three chapter which assesses history of disaster in the America cities for instance Chicago following the 1871 fire alongside San Francisco following the 1906 tremor as well as fire. Besides, there is Oklahoma City following the terror campaign of the Murrah Mansion as well as New York in the course of two centuries under capitalist referred to as “creative obliteration.” According to Edward, a story of civic regeneration following the Oklahoma City explosion as well as following the September 11 in the city of New York demonstrated the insolence of the affected cities. The story Edward composes is an actual one, not only a rhetorical approach to housebreak the dismay of those activities. Edward too remarks that, on the other hand, as stories denoted the “resilience” of these towns following the tragedy, disasters furthermore became products utilized in the current ideological struggles. The story of resilience are ideological itself, on the other hand, is identified by Rozario in the writing concerning post-fire Chicago as well as post-tremor San Francisco. Rozario explains the manner the scripting of tragedies as tools of prosperity permitted them to be convalesced within the already available as well as hegemonic tales of urban prosperity besides development. Rozario claims that section of the attracting tragedy tales truly falls in their jurisdiction to comfort those who have encountered the disturbing of their environments, though he displays the manner in which this comfort necessarily appeals to the ideologically drenched expectations as well as frights of the writers and recipients of those stories (Vale & Campanella, 2005).

Both Linenthal, as well as Rozario, finish their writing with thoughts on the writing of September 11; this is the third essay in this part, composed by Max Page, focuses overtly at debate in New York damaging both prior as well as after September 11. The main theme of every essay, then, is depicted somehow as a prior account to September 11. Edward, therefore, hypothesizes the post life of the Oklahoma City explosion as a relevant direction to the happening of September 11. Rozario observes the positive story script of after disaster Chicago as well as San Francisco continuing in that occurrence; as well as Page puts September 11 in the setting of two centuries of visual as well as textual stories of New York demolition. This giving of account as September 11’s prehistory gives rise to two questions (Vale & Campanella, 2005).

To begin with, while every of the three authors speaks about what people can know concerning September 11 from the tales of past tragedies, both factual as well as fiction, in the American Cities, the  issue of how September on its own has structured people’s understanding of such stories remains neglected. The question is vital since not merely do previous stories of resilience furnishes details on September 11 through September 11 speaks about if not dictates people’s understanding of these stories. Past USA urban tragedies are currently September 11’s prehistory, a chronological status that unfolds particular comprehension of these tragedies as well as suppresses the rest of the understandings, still in such essays chronological examination merely moves from past to current, as opposed to from current to the previous (Vale & Campanella, 2005).

Secondly, the editors structure this part of the text as an analysis of the means that people gather tales to elaborate or motivate processes of recuperation. Based on the editors’ perception, three essays display both the power as well as appearing ubiquity of resilient stories. These chapters, nevertheless, are entirely committed to current or contemporaneous U.S towns. The U.S cities are all structured by September 11 as well as are concentrated on the particular quandary of after September 11 New York. The writers structuring of these chapters as globalized debates of humans as well as debates with a trans-cultural and international “ubiquity” therefore automatically places September 11 as a framework for the city tragedy as such, neglecting any as well as entire other framework absolutely without being analyzed. Outlines of this placement take place in the whole text (Vale & Campanella, 2005).

The second part of the book relates to the symbolic aspects of shock as well as recuperation. This part contains five essays though in a text overtly committed to the “contemporary city,” the appropriateness of two of these essays is somehow ambiguous. One considers a series of structures in Jerusalem, majority of them were constructed as well as demolished from many years ago, as well as the rest concentrates on the rebuilding of Washington, D.C., following its smoldering initiated by the British military in the year 1814. The rest of the three essays in this part encompass the middle as well as the late 20th-century rebuilding of European towns. For instance, Guernica following the Spanish Civil War as well as Berlin besides Warsaw following the World War II (Vale & Campanella, 2005).

Every of these three essays connotes, in a distinct depth, the complicated connection between reconstruction as well as recuperation. Jasper Goldman explains the manner in which ideological debates, as well as political schemes of Poland’s recently ascendant Communist state, influenced the post-war rebuilding of Warsaw. Ladd narrates the even extreme complicated tale of Berlin’s postwar rebuilding in its Eastern as well as Western halves. When explaining the distinct conception of account, modernity as well as recuperation that structured rebuilding in East as well as West Berlin, Ladd too notes the alienation between ideological stipulations as well as circumstances of production in both settings.

West Berlin’s accessibility to the liberal market economy in the rebuilding of area called Hansa quarter became successful due to the huge expropriation of the personal property as well as the cost of East Berlin’s framework rebuilding referred to as the Stallionalee, however, made it hard to duplicate. As Ladd as well as Goldman debate urban recuperation essentially in architectural perspective, Kirschbaum as well as Desiree explain the manner in which, in the scenario of Guernica, the town’s physical rebuilding really exaggerated what the authors call “emotional distortion” of its existing residents and their descendants. Since similar authority that commanded the city demolished and this authority was Franco’s fascist regime, which later reconstructed the town, the upset of that demolition increased. This change directs Kirschbaum as well as Side off to develop “resilience” into different registers that are referred to as emotional as well as cultural (Vale & Campanella, 2005).

In the third part, committed to “The Politics of Rebuilding,” the assurance of this text is conveyed most competently. The essays in this part encompass an extremely varied range of case studies, giving a friction opposing the globalization of the American as well as European case studies. Furthermore, a number of essays consist masterfully strong explanations of their city goals of study, for instance one by Diane, is to a bright theoretical deliberation on the topic of urban resilience on its own (Vale & Campanella, 2005).

Diane’s essay pushes into relief the presumptions that spearhead the editors’ structuring of this text as well as the majority of the text’s constituent articles. Already incorporated in the text’s title, which positions urban resilience against tragedy, the core two presumptions relate to resiliencies on their own are not catastrophic as well as that tragedies are not resilient. The pre-tragedy urban belief, alternatively, is standardized as well as disruptions to that belief are presumed to be disordering, destructing as well as catastrophic. Politically, these presumptions are constituents of ideologies of authenticity. Traditionally, these presumptions back up the hegemonic awareness of September 11 as an act of aggression distracting a worldwide existence of peace as well as order as opposed to as a single period of lasting historical structure of worldwide violence as well as counter hostility (Vale & Campanella, 2005).


The articles gathered in this text therefore merely cover punctual tragedies including tremor, fires, wartime demolition as well as civil tension. The editors accept that the text concentrates on abrupt or intermittent forms of interruption though contend that recuperation from such interruptions engages “socioeconomic repercussions,” an expression that tends to substitute the structural forces. However, several forms of urban tragedy are, perhaps, structural. This involves structural underdevelopment besides institutionalized receipt of bribery as well as neoliberal town disinvestment amongst others. These constitute “structural tragedies” that are on their own resilient; though through merely including “sudden” tragedies in the text, the authors are capable of portraying urban resilience as an easy as well as positive aspect (Vale & Campanella, 2005).

The editors have thus safeguarded their thesis on the uncontrollability as well as the value of urban resilience through not factoring in a number of counter examples of final urban tragedy. It is therefore intensely vital that the text majorly ignores the worldwide south. This text then not solely elucidates “tales of resilience,” but too is merely a narrative itself, a story that provides particular comforts in the after September 11 U.S. In ending his article, Rozario discovers this dual status, stating that, the actual text concerning resilient city truly demonstrates to people’s current longing for narratives to assist in reaching a solution in the cases of main disasters. Rozario claims that it is comforting, at the beginning of September 11, to understand the extent of wellness American cities have recuperated from the horrifying disasters that faced those (Vale & Campanella, 2005).

Walter Benjamin identified in his dissertation concerning the philosophy of history that the convention of the coerced educates people that the situation of emergency in which populace dwell in is not the exemption but the rule. People ought to adhere to an ideology of history, which is maintained by this insight. The excellent essays in this text adhere to this ideology, but the rest, perceives calamity as outstanding, as merely in a distraction of urban resilience as opposed to as a major form of that resilience, capitulate a history that needs further inquiry (Vale & Campanella, 2005).



Vale, L. J., & Campanella, T. J. (Eds.). (2005). Resilient City: How modern cities recover from disaster.

Oxford: Oxford University Press.