- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Press (February 10, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 159420277X
- ISBN-13: 978-1594202773
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 152 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier Hardcover – February 10, 2011
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Glaeser�s academic specialty, urban economics, informs his survey of how cities around the world thrive and wither. Using a range of expository forms�history, biography, economic research, and personal story�he defines what makes a city successful. That changes through time, and a flourishing Industrial Age model may not work in the service-age economy, as rust-belt towns like Detroit have learned. One thing constantly attracts people to one city rather than another�how much housing construction is permitted. Restrictive places, such as New York City, coastal California, and Paris, have a tight housing supply with prices only the wealthy can afford. Hence, middle-class people move to the suburbs or cities like Houston. Other features of metropolises�their incidences of poverty and crime, traffic congestion, quality of schools, and cultural amenities�also figure in Glaeser�s analysis. Whatever the city under discussion, Mumbai or Woodlands, Texas, Glaeser is discerning and independent; for example, he believes that historic preservation isn�t an unalloyed good and that bigger, denser cities militate against global warming. Thought-provoking material for urban-affairs students. --Gilbert Taylor
"If you live in a city, if you're planning on living in a city, if you ever lived in a city-this is a great book to read to give yourself a nice feeling of what you're accomplishing. It's a tremendous book."
-Jon Stewart, Host of "The Daily Show"
"Edward Glaeser is one of the world's most brilliant economists, and "Triumph of the City" is a masterpiece. Seamlessly combining economics and history, he explains why cities are 'our species' greatest invention.' This beautifully written book makes clear how cities have not only survived but thrived, even as modern technology has seemingly made one's physical location less important."
-Steven D. Levitt, co-author of "Freakonomics" and "SuperFreakonomics"; professor of economics at the University of Chicago
"If you would like to improve slums, turn poverty into prosperity, or get a grip on urban sprawl, read this thoughtful and thought-provoking book."
-Simon Johnson, author of "13 Bankers"; professor of entre
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I greatly admire Edward Glaeser. He revived the field of urban economics, almost single-handedly. He has investigated every aspect of city life. He masters theory, statistics, and history. He is not ideological. All his qualities transpire here.
Yet The book reads easily. The economics and statistics are clearly explained. Examples abound: New York, Detroit, Houston, Milan, Mumbai, Rio, and then some.
As a non-ideologue, Glaeser heaps both scorn and praise on both markets and governments. Want to make house affordable? Let developers build up and out (in passim he criticizes the “eyes on the street” theory.) Do not look down on suburbia: many embraces it because life is cheaper and better than in the center. But you need governments to take care of public health, congestion and global warning.
Glaeser endorses water utilities, congestion taxes and some infrastructure. He lambasts the mortgage-interest deduction, most building restrictions (including for Conservancy and Preservation) and most efforts at urban renewal, like conference centers.) On the eternal struggle over the merits of centralized versus decentralized government he takes a middle ground: different levels are needed to look over each others' shoulders. I appreciated such nuanced views
This is the best pop-econ book I have read. Highly recommended
For example, he argues that telecommunication and technology cannot replace face-to-face interaction, but this is not necessarily true. More and more people work from home, and some studies have demonstrated that these people are actually more productive than those who are in a face-to-face office environment. I think that this type of interaction will become more pronounced as technology advances, eventually eliminating the need for a centralized office environment altogether.
Glaeser is more successful with his economic arguments, which makes sense, since he is an economist. However, he relies too heavily on correlation to prove his points, and we all know that correlation does not necessarily equate to causation. When he delves into environmentalism, his arguments just seem tacked on and unsupported in order to add a PC chapter on climate change. How stuffing more and more people into an urban setting without addressing the underlying problem of population growth makes little sense. His arguments are solely based upon carbon emissions as the issue.
Overall, this is not a bad book, but it is not a great book either. The historical bits are more interesting than the persuasive bits. It is a bit longer than necessary and jumps around without clear structure. I also have a major issue with him not directly citing his sources throughout the book via footnotes or endnotes. Instead, he has a section of sources at the end that aren't linked to anything in particular, so actually fact-checking some of his statistics or suppositions is a fairly difficult endeavor, as if he were intentionally trying to obfuscate his sources.
Detailed review can be found in this link https://vivekbhan.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/book-reaction-triumph-of-the-cities-by-edward-glaeser/
Still, this is serious sociological work and the myriad entertaining stories throughout make it fun to read and recount over cocktails or dinner.