Nadia Theodore

Book: Atlanta Rising: The Invention of an International City 1946-1996

Author: Frederick Allen, 1996

Review by: Nadia Theodore, consul general of Canada to the Southeast U.S.

I began my appointment to the Southeast U.S.A (with a territory covering Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee) in mid- September of 2017. With my husband and 5-year-old daughter happily in tow, I arrived in Atlanta (where we are based) on a hot September morning.

More than the heat, what instantly hit us upon arriving was the warmth and welcoming nature of the city, the impressive amount of knowledge that so many people we met had of Canada-U.S. relations and the pride that people showed of having a significant number of senior diplomatic representations from around the world based here.

I admit that I had never visited anywhere in the Southeast U.S. before moving to Georgia. I was curious to explore the city that we would call home base for the next several years and to learn how Atlanta became known (including among members of Canada’s State Department equivalent and Canada’s international-minded business community) as “the international city of the South” and “too busy to hate.”

Atlanta Rising was recommended to me by several early contacts, from the kind lady at City Hall who helped get my water set up at our new home to one my AtlantaConsular Corps colleagues who as an Honorary Consul, is a Georgian native, as well as a few people in the Atlanta business community.

I was not disappointed. Atlanta Rising was easy to read and provided an immensely informative history of the city from 1946-1996. As someone not from Georgia nor from the United States, I appreciated the even-handed and detailed account of specific events that helped transform and lead Atlanta to its rise into the international spotlight — and the broader political and economic context of the Southeast and the United States during that time.

The book seemed honest to me. It didn’t sugar-coat the city’s struggles and flaws, but gave an equal amount of “air time” to helping the reader understand the measured, step-by-step collaboration among civic leaders, elected officials and the business community that led to Atlanta’s success and recognition at home and abroad.

As I turned the last page, I felt a much better appreciation for my new city-home. I have a new appreciation for some the amazing buildings and hotels in the city, many of which were designed by Atlanta’s very own John Portman who the world lost only a few days ago. I have a better understanding of where the immense city pride for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport comes from and the significance of the two people for which it is named. And I was able to better appreciate the meaning of the words spoken by Ambassador Andrew Young at the incoming mayor’s inauguration and the roaring round of applause he received from the crowd.

Atlanta Rising was an excellent introduction to my new home base. I am grateful for the city’s openness to the diplomatic corps. I look forward to learning more about Atlanta and strengthening Canada’s ties with this global city, with the welcoming state of Georgia and with the dynamic Southeast region.