Places Rated is laced with intelligent and, unexpectedly, witty writing. The whole concept of judging places, the author notes, may seem the utmost of brass. "Yet everyone does it, privately. Some suspect that culture in Omaha or Des Moines or Saskatoon is a contradiction. Others surmise that daily life in Miami consists of surviving drug-trade shoot-outs..." Organized intelligently, Places Rated acknowledges that "livability" and "quality of life" are moving targets. Livable for whom? The artist who wants mountain vistas? The entrepreneur who wants low taxes and no red tape? With these limitations in mind, the book ends with a chapter titled "Putting It All Together," where the reader is invited to rate cities with a customized list of priorities. Arriving at your customized list, however, requires answering 72 questions that force you to decide once and for all what you value most--a low cost of living or good school districts or mild winters or some other criterion. And should you find that climate matters most, head for Santa Barbara, California, where winters and summers are mild and natural hazards are few, and stay away from Rochester, Minnesota, unless you're willing to endure 35 days when it's 0 degrees Fahrenheit, and 165 days of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, annually. --John Russell --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.