SOURCE: Yale University Press

Yale University Press

November 06, 2013 17:55 ET

Best-Selling Author Benjamin R. Barber Pens a Skilled and Impassioned Argument for Why Mayors and Their Brand of Leadership Offer the Best Solutions to Entrenched Global Problems

If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities

NEW HAVEN, CT--(Marketwired - November 06, 2013) -  In the face of the most perilous challenges of our time -- climate change, terrorism, poverty, and trafficking of drugs, guns, and people -- the nations of the world seem paralyzed. The problems are too global, complex, and divisive for national governments to deal with successfully. If the nation-state, once democracy's best hope, has grown dysfunctional and obsolete, who can tackle these problems? The answer, says Benjamin R. Barber in If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities (November 2013, Yale University Press), is our cities and their mayors.

Barber asserts that cities, and the mayors who run them, offer the best new forces of good governance. He cites the unique qualities cities worldwide share: pragmatism, civic trust, participation, indifference to borders and sovereignty, and a democratic penchant for networking, creativity, innovation, and cooperation. Cities are already doing more to cooperatively address some global problems than the larger states that contain them. Should mayors rule the world? This book shows that, in many ways, they already do.

Barber can discuss:

  • Why mayors are the right people for the job of fixing problems -- both locally and globally
  • What are the qualities that mayors need for their job descriptions that make them so effective at finding and enacting solutions
  • Examples of mayors and their actions that succeeded in fighting macro-problems by working locally (such as with Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles tackling water pollution, Mayor Bloomberg of New York City challenging the rise of obesity with large soda bans, and Mayor Thomas Menino and the Boston police working together to find the Boston Marathon bombing perpetrators in 48 hours)
  • The history of the city, from its earliest incarnations to the imagined "smart cities" driven by digital technology and networking
  • The "smart city" and its potential and limitations for aiding government and democracy
  • Cities as sites of both democratic growth and economic disparity

The book also features profiles of a dozen mayors around the world, such as New York City's Michael Bloomberg and London's Boris Johnson. If Mayors Ruled the World presents a compelling new vision of governance for the coming century. Barber makes a persuasive case that the city is democracy's best hope in a globalizing world, and great mayors are already proving that this is so. The book shows how city mayors on an international scale, both singly and jointly, are responding to transnational problems more effectively than nations mired in ideological infighting and rivalries.

Benjamin R. Barber is senior research scholar at the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the Graduate Center, the City University of New York. He is also president and founder of the Interdependence Movement and the author of seventeen books, including Jihad vs. McWorld, Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole and Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age. He blogs regularly for The Huffington Post, and has written for The Atlantic, The American Prospect, The Nation, Harper's, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and more. He has appeared on Bill Moyer's "Journal," Charlie Rose, The Tavis Smiley Show, The Colbert Report, WBUR's "On Point" and numerous programs on CNN, Fox News, CBC, and more. He lives in New York City.

Watch the book trailer for IF MAYORS RULED THE WORLD

Watch Benjamin Barber's 2013 TED Talk: Why mayors should rule the world!


"Mayors around the world tend to be pragmatists and problem-solvers, not partisans. They get things done, often after national governments fall short. Ben Barber provides a provocative look at how cities can and do lead from the front in addressing the most pressing issues of our time." -Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City; founder of Bloomberg LP

"A provocative, informative account of a different kind of globalization. Highly recommended reading for policymakers and other readers intrigued by forward-thinking forms of governance." -Kirkus Reviews, Starred review

"In an impassioned love letter to cities and their political leaders, Barber (Jihad vs. McWorld) celebrates the diversity and ferment that embody urban life." -Publishers Weekly

"If you care about cities, read If Mayors Ruled the World. It is the most important book on cities, their leadership and how they can make the world a better place to come along in years. Ben Barber has written a tour de force." -Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class and The Great Reset

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