New & Notable: America’s Failing Infrastructure, "Climatopolis," & Why Do Shepherds Need A Bush?

In August 2007, the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis, MN, collapsed, killing 13 and injuring 145 others. Investigations following the tragedy revealed that it could have been prevented. The grave reality is that it is a tragedy that threatens to be repeated at many of the thousands of bridges located across the nation.

In Too Big To Fall: America’s Failing Infrastructure And The Way Forward (New York: Foster, 2010), aut hor Barry LePatner chronicles the problems that led to the I-35W catastrophe — poor bridge design,shoddy maintenance, ignored expert repair recommendations, and misallocated funding — and digs through the National Transportation Safety Board’s report on the tragedy, which failed to present the full story.

From there LePatner evaluates what the I-35W Bridge collapse means for the country as a whole — outlining the possibility of a nationwide infrastructure breakdown.

He exposes government failure on a national as well as state level, explains why we must maintain an effective infrastructure system — including how it plays a central role in supporting both our nation’s economic strength and our national security — and rounds out the book by providing his own well-researched solutions.

Too Big to Fall presents an eye-opening critique of a bureaucratic system that has allowed political best interests to trump those of the American people. It contains special comments by James Oberstar, the outgoing Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure.

Cities are the engines of the economic growth and the foundation of our prosperity. But what will become of them as our world gets hotter?

In Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive In The Hotter Future (New York: Basic, 2010), Matthew Kahn, one of the world’s foremost experts on the economics of the environment and of cities, argues that our future lies in our ability to adapt. Cities and regions will slowly transform as we change our behaviors and our surroundings in response to the changing climate. Kahn – professor at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, the UCLA School of Public Affairs’ Department of Public Policy, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research – shows us how this will happen.

The author is optimistic about the quality of our lives in the cities of the future, despite a high chance of less hospitable climate conditions than we face today. At the heart of his conviction in a bright future is our individual freedom of choice. This personal freedom will reveal pathways that will greatly help urbanites cope with climate change.

Taking the reader on a tour of the world’s cities – from New York to Los Angeles, Beijing to Mumbai – Kahn’s clear-eyed, engaging, and optomistic messages presents a positive yet realistic picture of what our urban future will look like.

An entire chapter is devoted to Los Angeles, including sub-sections titled “Los Angeles Has A Subway?” and “Could Public Transit Become Hip In Los Angeles?”

The names of the 300 or so London underground stations are often quite unusual, yet so familiar that Tube riders take them for granted.

We hardly ever question their meanings or origins—yet these well-known names are almost always linked with fascinating stories of bygone times.

In Why Do Shepherds Need A Bush?: London’s Underground History Of Tube Station Names (Stroud, Eng.: History Press, 2010), author David Hilliam not only uncovers the little-known history behind the station stops below ground, but also explores the eccentric etymology of some of London’s landmarks, offering trivia boxes that will surely amuse.

Until the mid-19th century, London was almost unbelievably rural, with names belonging to a countryside we could never recognize or imagine today.

Who in the 21st century, thinks of a real flesh-and-blood shepherd lolling back on a specially-trimmed hawthorn bush, when traveling through Shepherd’s Bush underground station?

And who, traveling through Totteridge and Whetstone on the Northern Line, imagines medieval soldiers sharpening their swords and daggers at the aptly named Whetstone just before engaging in the appallingly bloody battle of Barnet?

This entertaining book will ensure that readers never view their normal Tube journey the same way again.