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Imagine a City: Book summary and reviews of Imagine a City by Mark Vanhoenacker

Imagine a City

A Pilot's Journey Across the Urban World

by Mark Vanhoenacker

Imagine a City by Mark Vanhoenacker X
Imagine a City by Mark Vanhoenacker
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  • Published Jul 2022
    416 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

This love letter to the cities of the world - from the airline pilot–author of Skyfaring - is "a journey around both the author's mind and the planet's great cities that leaves us energized, open to new experiences and ready to return more hopefully to our lives" (Alain de Botton, author of The Art of Travel).

In his small New England hometown, Mark Vanhoenacker spent his childhood dreaming of elsewhere— of the distant, real cities he found on the illuminated globe in his bedroom, and of one perfect metropolis that existed only in his imagination. These cities were the sources of endless comfort and escape, and of a lasting fascination. Streets unspooled, towers shone, and anonymous crowds bustled in the places where Mark hoped he could someday be anyone—perhaps even himself.

Now, as a commercial airline pilot, Mark has spent nearly two decades crossing the skies of our planet and touching down in dozens of the storied cities he imagined as a child. He experiences these destinations during brief stays that he repeats month after month and year after year, giving him an unconventional and uniquely vivid perspective on the places that form our urban world.

In this intimate yet expansive work that weaves travelogue with memoir, Mark celebrates the cities he has come to know and to love, through the lens of the hometown his heart has never quite left. As he explores emblematic facets of each city's identity— the road signs of Los Angeles, the old gates of Jeddah, the snowy streets of Sapporo—he shows us with warmth and fresh eyes the extraordinary places that billions of us call home.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Gazing through the windshield of his 787, commercial airline pilot Vanhoenacker conjures the beauty of cities around the globe in this moving reflection on the meaning of home...As he marvels at the locales he's visited, Vanhoenacker offers a taste of the high life that informs and awes in equal measure. Jet-setters will be enthralled." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[A] beguiling tour of cities both real and imagined...Vanhoenacker is a collector of sumptuous details...Philosophically rich without being ponderous, belonging on the same shelf as books by Saint-Exupéry, Markham, and Langewiesche, Vanhoenacker's book is unfailingly interesting, full of empathetic details on faraway places and lives. It's an absolute pleasure for any world citizen and a trove for any traveler. A sparkling addition to the literature of flight." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Readers learn bits and pieces about Vanhoenacker's childhood, career path, and significant relationships, but overall the book lacks a strong personal narrative, which is disappointing. Extended descriptions of the author's hometown of Pittsfield, MA, might challenge the patience of a U.S. reader expecting to read about more distant locales." - Library Journal

"A memoir wrapped within a scholarly travel book...Dreamy and erudite...A most likeable, warm-hearted narrator with an original world view." - The Times (UK)

"Mark Vanhoenacker is a beautiful lyrical writer who uses his experience as a pilot to bring us constantly in touch with the transcendent and the other worldly. Imagine a City is a journey around both the author's mind and the planet's great cities that leaves us energised, open to new experiences and ready to return more hopefully to our lives." - Alain de Botton, author of The Art of Travel

"Most of us look at cities from the ground up. But, Mark Vanhoenacker, a pilot, looks at them from above. And his journeys enable him to drop in and visit and revisit cities across the world. His book, Imagine a City provides a unique and much-needed perspective of the cities and the urban world we live in." - Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class

This information about Imagine a City was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Mark Vanhoenacker

Mark Vanhoenacker is a commercial airline pilot and writer. The author of the international bestseller Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot and How to Land a Plane, he is also a regular contributor to the New York Times and a columnist for the Financial Times. Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, he trained as a historian and worked in business before starting his flight training in Britain in 2001. He now flies the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from London to cities around the world.

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