Review: Four Lost Cities by Annalee Newitz

Four Lost Cities is an incredibly interesting and topical monograph that isn’t a monograph.  The author, Annalee Newitz, takes readers through a conversation about the rise and fall of four ancient cities.  Many scholarly works get bogged down in jargon, but this book takes the reader on a journey with an easy to read style and makes it all the more effective in bringing it’s central message to the reader.

The ancient cities are Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey from the Neolithic period, Pompeii in Italy, Angkor in Cambodia, and Cahokia near the Mississippi River in North America.  Going into this book, I knew about two of the four cities and was astounded to read about both Çatalhöyük  and Cahokia.

Contrary to popular belief, Newitz concludes that the residents of these cities did not die out, rather they migrated from their close-quarters homes.  Through the narrative, Newitz analyzes the cultural and historical implications that led to migrations from these ancient metropolis sites. Detailing new and innovative techniques in the field of archelogy, Newitz presents conclusions and findings in a compelling way.  Though the author’s background is journalism, the research that was put into this book is evident in every paragraph.

Though I do not live in a metropolitan area, I see the effects of urbanization within my community and region.  Like other reviewers, I focused on the message about urbanism and it’s effect on society.  I enjoyed reading the historical and archeological analysis of urbanism and migration in ancient cities.  Newitz makes a clear statement that the subject civilizations migrated as a result of necessity.  This is the message I held on to at the end of the book.  We, as humans, must change as a result of necessity, be that migration from urban centers or changing other habits.  This is an incredibly timely message for the world!

Find this title on goodreads, visit Annalee Newitz’ website, and pre-order your copy today at W. W. Norton & Company!

Four Lost Cities is on sale February 1, 2021!

I received a galley copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Edelweiss and W. W. Norton for the opportunity to read this title!


Review: Sporting Blood: Tales from the Dark Side of Boxing by Carlos Acevedo

Award-winning boxing writer, Carlos Acevedo has given us a beautiful collection of essays highlighting the people, the events, and the complexities that make up the world of boxing.  Sporting Blood: Tales from the Dark Side of Boxing contains 20 essays dedicated to people from Muhammad Ali to Johnny Tapia to Mike Tyson to Eddie Machen and events like Wilfredo Gomez v. Lupe Pintor, the curious death of Sonny Liston, and the interestingly complicated relationship between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. 

Acevedo is an accomplished writer who weaves 20 individual stories into a cohesive narrative that captures the gruesome legacy of boxing.  At one point, Acevedo writes:

“At the core of these apocalyptic fights, where two men take turns punishing each other from round to round, lies the question of motivation.  Not in the sporting sense- that is, not in the careerist sense or anything so mundane as competition- but in an existential sense.”

This book contrasts the stark realities that were fights throughout the history of boxing:  some competitors were subject to extreme family violence, inherent poverty, juvenile delinquency, drug use, and incredibly physical and mental harm in the ring.  Writing about Wilfredo Gomez, the author denotes that Gomez’ career caught up to him in the present day.  A life of hard living, extreme physical punishment in the ring, drug and alcohol abuse have left him with a childlike persona and in need of assistance for daily tasks.

Acevedo has put together a compelling and masterful perspective on the darkest side of boxing.  With a foreword from award-winning author Thomas Hauser, this book is a must read for any boxing fan.

I would recommend this to students in Sport History courses, fans of boxing, and anyone looking for a richly sourced perspective on the history of boxing.

Sporting Blood is out now and can be found at most major retailers! 

I received a galley copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss+.