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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier Publisher: Penguin Press HC
ISBN: 159420277X
Pages: 352 pgs
Genre: Non-Fiction
Challenges-100+ Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge,
 Rating:  
 Buy this Book: Amazon, Powell's, Indiebound








Summary from Publisher:
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 Cities", 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.

My Review:
Pardon my lateness with this review. It’s been a bit of a kerfluffle. My computer had a bit of an episode this morning and refused to connect to the internet. It also did not save the review that I had finished for this book. So I had to rewrite the darn thing and fix the connection. It’s been a day.

This book is way out of my comfort zone but my comfort zone has become rather small in recent months. This seemed like a book that would really be interesting and in some respects I was completely right.

I’m a New York City girl who lives in the suburbs. Not because I don’t like the city but because it is way too expensive and uneconomical to live in the city. I agree with many of his points. Mainly his ideas about congestion in the city and education. I’m from New York City and I have experienced bad traffic to point where I contemplated abandoning my car and taking a train home. It would be so much easier if everything was accessible by train or bus. I did not agree with his views about historic preservation. I’m a historian and a librarian and destroying remnants of our past for the sake of urban development makes no sense to me at all. But we need not agree on everything.

This book had the potential to be really dry and dense but Glaeser made it very interesting and vibrant. He wavered between travelogue, history and policy to make his point. It worked well for the most part. I found myself agreeing with most of his points (aside from his ideas about historic preservation—I just can’t). His writing style also created a lively and interesting discussion. I entered the book quite skeptical but I finished quite interested and buying into almost every point.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in urban development and policy.


*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I hate it when I lose a review I've already written! I'm glad you were able to get everything sorted out though.

    I get you on that historical preservation thing - as a huge history buff I'm all about saving our historical places. Still, I think this would be a fascinating read!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

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