Hail Babylon! In Search of the American City at the End of the Millennium
St. Martin's Press, 1999
Andrei Codrescu, longtime observer and commentator on things odd and American, takes us on a personal tour through our withered yet increasingly alluring urban landscapes. Our trusted, if sometimes irreverent, guide visits New York, Baltimore, New Orleans, Little Rock, San Antonio, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon (and points beyond, including Oxford, Mississippi; Salem, Oregon; and California's seaside jewel, La Jolla). Codrescu - while recognizing that cities are under attack by the political right, buffeted by the ever-proliferating prefab town house, beset by crime, and questioned from within - shows us that they are also still flourishing, in fact becoming invaluable models of multiethnic, multicultural living. Taken together, these striking urban portraits sound an extremely hopeful message as Codrescu astutely considers "the city as wilderness," a place where the ecology of human desires and the work of the mind find their optimum conditions.
"Andrei Codrescu is a startlingly original explainer of places who manages to be as entertaining as he is perceptive. With Hail Babylon! he is his usual self: informed, irreverent, and droll - the perfect traveling companion." - John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
"[Codrescu] has rightfully assumed his place among the keener chroniclers of the American spirit, 1990s style." - The New York Times
"Andrei Codrescu makes a delightful traveling companion... Chance encounters are sure to be memorable when you're traveling with Andrei Codrescu." - San Diego Union-Tribune
"At the end of the 20th century we must not only reassess our natural resources, but we must also reevaluate our urban landscapes, and Andrei Codrescu is just the person to do it." - New Orleans Times-Picayune