He defines a 'feral city" as a metropolis with over a million people in a state whose government has lost the ability to maintain the rule of law within the city's boundries yet remains a functioning actor in the greater international system.
He offers Mogadishu as the world's first such place, and points out that many other urban areas are on their way to such devastation.
Margaret Atwood, in her superb, breathtaking novel "Oryx and Crake," takes you into a feral city, in an imagined dystopian future that seems increasingly likely to occur.
Her book is riveting and compelling.
I suspect it didn't do all that well commercially precisely because it seems all too likely to occur, and was therefore too frighteningly realistic to become a best-seller.
We like our fears best when they seem unlikely to really take place.
Yesterday's Washington Post Travel section Q&A featured a response to a reader thinking about a trip to Rio.
From the "A":
- Rio de Janeiro saw a wave of bold attacks against tourists in November, including the shooting of a Spaniard during a mugging, the stabbing of a Japanese woman in front of the well-known Copacabana Palace hotel and the robbery of 20 Angolans on a group tour.
Peter Tarlow, an international travel security consultant, recently returned from Rio, where he gave a lecture to the city's police officers.
Tarlow said Rio's favelas, or slums, in the past had been contained to the hills above Rio but are now creeping closer to the city's popular tourist areas.
Tarlow suggests that you don't walk anywhere alone and always carry enough money to satisfy a robber if you're approached.
On the beach, don't leave anything unattended; if you want to swim, have one person stay on shore to watch your possessions.
The State Department also warns Americans to avoid city buses, to be cautious when using ATMs and not to venture into the favelas.
Ken Stier of the New York Times wrote about these frightening places in the December 12 New York Times magazine; his story follows.
- Feral Cities
This year, the American military was forced to relearn painful lessons in urban warfare.