Cover image for The pig and the skyscraper : Chicago : a history of our future
The pig and the skyscraper : Chicago : a history of our future
D'Eramo, Marco, 1947-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Maiale e il grattacielo. English
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Verso, 2002.
Physical Description:
viii, 472 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F548.52 .D47 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Marco d'Eramo stalks the streets of Chicago, leaving no myth unturned in his exploration of the familiar stink of modernity in one of its most exemplorary sites. Much more the heart of America than New York or Los Angeles, he sees with a European's detached gaze what has become of the stage for some of modernity's key episodes: the birth of the skyscraper, the rise of urban sociology, the world's first atomic reactor, the economic school of the Chicago Boys. Long gone are the slaughterhouses, railroads, and lumber and cereal-crop trades that made Chicago great and in their wake we witness the revolutionary, subversive power of capitalism at its purest and the features and contradictions of American society at large.

Author Notes

Marco d'Eramo was born in Rome in 1947. Originally a physicist, he went on to study sociology with Pierre Bourdieu at the Paris Ecole pratique des hautes etudes

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In The Pig and the Skyscraper Chicago: A History of Our Future, Italian author and journalist Marco d'Eramo turns his gimlet eye on the Windy City's 170-year social geography. The first of d'Eramo's books to be translated into English (by Graeme Thomson), this gritty cultural criticism falls in line with City of Quartz by Mike Davis (who provides a foreword) as it pries open the history of the stockyards, Gold Coast skyscrapers, slaughterhouses, Miracle Mile mansions, the Cabrini-Green housing project, the Sears Tower, the Mafiosi and the inner-city gangs, the Mayors Daley, the police force, the unions, the Black Power movement and so on. Beginning with the railroads, which wiped out "entire herds of buffalo," made the city "black with coal dust" and called for the importation of hundreds of Chinese laborers, d'Eramo astutely traces Chicago's craggy sociopolitical continuum. Photos. (Nov. 8) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Despite what the title may suggest, this book is not really about Chicago. Instead, it is a dark portrait of American capitalism and democracy. Readers looking for a fresh perspective on the Windy City might be disappointed that the author relates well-known examples from its past only to support more general arguments about the poor conditions of U.S. society and politics. Italian journalist and writer d'Eramo plays the familiar role of outside observer, making some compelling statements about race and class in America. Unfortunately, there are also many distracting overstatements and even misstatements, the most egregious of which is perhaps the assertion that the American system "guarantees everyone the right to happiness." Some of what d'Eramo says about the U.S. Census's handling of racial categories is also no longer true. Finally, the book seems a bit dated, as it was first published in Italian in 1995. Despite all the negativity dispersed throughout the chapters, d'Eramo ends on a positive note, describing a "moving sense of faith in the future" that came over him while attending a crowded Fourth of July fireworks display. For large social science collections. Andrew Brodie Smith, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lib., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This publisher's urban studies collection is renowned for providing new perspectives on the US city, and this latest addition does not disappoint. Sociologist D'Eramo focuses on metropolitan Chicago, "the most American of American cities," and offers a pithy critical assessment of its evolution and present condition. Little in the urban scene escapes his attention, and his polemic is a fascinating and wide-ranging contribution to contemporary social thought. The book's 29 chapters are loosely organized into three more or less equal parts, which are almost impossible to summarize. Most of the book is a lively, stream-of-consciousness approach to a diversity of topics affecting urban life, cleverly interwoven and richly illustrated in a series of well-chosen vignettes. Unfortunately, except for a few photos the richness of the landscape being described goes almost totally unsupported by visual materials, a shortcoming that noticeably detracts from the power of the author's argument. Recommended for collections in US history, sociology, urban studies and planning, and social philosophy. P. O. Muller University of Miami

Table of Contents

Mike Davis
Forewordp. v
Part 1

p. 1

1 Arrival in Chicagolandp. 3
2 The Tracks of Tomorrowp. 11
3 The Mathematics of Porkp. 25
4 Buying the Futurep. 41
5 Sky Grazingp. 53
6 Houses with Wingsp. 59
7 Lumber Minesp. 81
8 A Streetcar Named Progressp. 95
9 Suburban Paradisesp. 111
10 Faith Can Also Move Banksp. 127
Metacity: An Imperial Metropolisp. 141
Part 2

p. 149

11 The Mayo Curdles in the Melting Potp. 151
12 Black Flags on the Yardsp. 177
13 Class Struggle in the Sleeping Carp. 195
14 When the Frankfurters Became Dogmeatp. 211
15 In the Capital of Hobohemiap. 221
16 At Nature's Feastp. 239
Metacity: Such Compelling Chaosp. 255
Part 3

p. 269

17 Bronzeville: The End of Hopep. 271
18 Allah on Lake Michiganp. 293
19 Cabrini-Green: Where Paradise Once Stoodp. 315
20 The Color of Catsp. 327
21 Greeks Heroes and Lumpen Capitalistsp. 337
22 In the Cogs of the Machinep. 355
23 Prague in Illinoisp. 383
Metacity: Market Missionaries Beseiged in Fort Sciencep. 395
Epilogue: Human Tides Againp. 413
Postscript: One More Blues, and Then ...p. 437
Bibliographyp. 445
Indexp. 455