Palaces for the People: How to Build a More Equal and United Society by Eric Klinenberg – review

A US sociologist is eloquent on the importance of creating shared urban spaces – but vague on how to make it happen

This is a book with which few Observer readers will disagree. It champions “social infrastructure”, meaning libraries, urban farms, playgrounds, sports grounds and all the other shared spaces that allow people to make connections, form networks and find ways to know and help one another. It doesn’t like Trump, racial segregation or climate change denial. Its theme is important and timely, but it leaves you wanting more.

Eric Klinenberg is a sociologist based at New York University, who made his name with a study of a lethal 1995 heatwave in his native Chicago. There, he discovered that the likelihood of death or illness from the heat related not only to deprivation and social position, as might be expected, but also to the physical form and condition of the ...