March 17, 2012

Review - Triumph Of The City (Edward Glaeser)

In 2009, for the first time in history, more than half the world's population lived in cities. In a time when family, friends and co-workers are a call, text, or email away, 3.3 billion people on this planet still choose to crowd together in skyscrapers, high-rises, subways and buses. Not too long ago, it looked like our cities were dying, but in fact they boldly threw themselves into the information age, adapting and evolving to become the gateways to a globalized and interconnected world. Now more than ever, the well-being of human society depends upon our knowledge of how the city lives and breathes. Understanding the modern city and the powerful forces within it is the life's work of Harvard urban economist Edward Glaeser, who at forty is hailed as one of the world's most exciting urban thinkers. Travelling from city to city, speaking to planners and politicians across the world, he uncovers questions large and small whose answers are both counterintuitive and deeply significant. Should New Orleans be rebuilt? Why can't my nephew afford an apartment in New York? Is London the new financial capital of the world? Is my job headed to Bangalore? In TRIUMPH OF THE CITY, Glaeser takes us around the world and into the mind of the modern city - from Mumbai to Paris to Rio to Detroit to Shanghai, and to any number of points in between - to reveal how cities think, why they behave in the manners that they do, and what wisdom they share with the people who inhabit them.

Cities. Most of us live in them. Some days we wish we didn't, and then we can't imagine not to. In Triumph Of The City Edward Glaeser introduces the reader to what cities are made of. What makes them rise. What makes them fall.
I must confess right away that I don't see myself as a city dweller. As much as I can't imagine living in a big city, I still appreciate living in the vicinity of one. According to Glaeser we are indeed an urban species and it's the innovations and prosperity which comes along with it, that have literally paved the path for the modern metropolis.
A smart and insightful look on the modern city, its dynamics and economic perspectives, this book might appear to be a dry read on first glance, but it most certainly isn't. If you're interested in the topic, you will come to appreciate the mixture of informative content and its highly comprehensible presentation. Drawing from both historical examples and comparing them with various present day cities, I was amazed at the intricate web that makes cities what they are and how many prejudices about them simply aren't true, eg cities can often be greener than rural or suburban living.
Admittedly I might not appreciate city life as fully as the author does, though I definitely loved his thought provoking depiction of what makes cities tick.
In short: A fascinating look on what cities are made of!

4/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Pan MacMillan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

No comments:

Post a Comment