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VINE VOICEon 4 March 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is more or less what I expect from most economics books I read. It has some interesting facts, explanations and examples of the merits of cities. For people who aren't used to thinking in economic terms, they might find this book refutes some bad ideas they have about cities: slums are bad and that sort of thing. If that's what you want you can pass a few hours reading this book and be entertained.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 31 March 2011
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I am not an economist nor a city planner. I am a former city dweller having lived in small cities and some of the larger better known such as Milan, Rome, Amsterdam and London. In addition, I have travelled to many of the cities mentioned in this book on business; Shanghai, Beijing, Mumbai, Bangalore, Sidney, Stockholm and Munich but to name a few and so I wanted to read something which I thought would give me some historical perspective of what makes these cities function and how the people within them act like a cog within the larger workings of a vast political, economic and human machine. I was not disappointed in its content. The author certainly knows his onions from his shallots but I was disappointed to find that he is a firm advocat of large cities and all that they can produce, seeming to believe that the economic viability and the richness and diversity of experiences of large, complex and overgrown cities is enough to make this world go around and even the best way forward is to build upwards and bigger and better.

There of course is a much deeper argument to the author's viewpoint and the sheer volume of facts and details were in themselves, very interesting.

This is a highly technical perspective on cities and perhaps not the more humanistic level I had been interested in. However, it is well written, well researched and certainly a must for environmental planners or even a good read for business analysts.
14 people found this helpful
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on 14 February 2011
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I found the writing in this book very dense. It's a well written book (as far as I can tell) and it had good reviews when it came out, but I just couldn't read very far into it without giving up.

I find that, these days, I have so many books (on paper and kindle) that if they're not easy to read I don't get very far before I switch.
One person found this helpful
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VINE VOICEon 2 April 2011
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The economic, rational arguments put forward in this book really can't be refuted. It's no surprise that start-ups are clustering about the Old Street roundabout in north-east London, for example. There's something of a J-curve effect as centre of gravity emerges in a sector and brings in supporting infrastructure and services.

However, in Britain there's a deep-rooted political instinct that this is wrong and the economic gains 'ought' to be widely available. To be told to 'get on your bike' is quite unacceptable if you live in the former mining towns of Wales or the North East. So civil servants end up 'picking winners' and using public money to create 'centres of excellence' which quickly die a death. Anyone like to estimate how many failing provincial Town Halls are now squandering money on 'green' enterprise zones?

The attraction of London can be seen in the failing effort by the BBC to move to a new 'media city' in Salford, a politically driven effort to appease New Labour. Is it any wonder hardly anyone wants to move?

The key message is for the politicians to accept that city living has to be supported not discouraged and that the growth of London and the SE is to be welcomed.
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on 30 June 2011
Harvard economics professor Edward Glaeser revels in cities. He loves the historical, cultural and economic forces that intersect to create cities, he loves what makes them fail or succeed, and he loves the collaborative exchange of ideas and energy that only cities offer. His wide-ranging, storytelling approach provides illustrative tales and resonant factoids, all in support of his main contention: Cities are healthier for people, economies and the environment than any other mode of living. Glaeser makes a strong, entertaining case as he travels around the world and through time. His episodic, anecdotal style both obscures and reveals his work's intent. The evocative history he unearths makes his theoretical points with more force than his attempts to plainly state his concepts. In fact, his conjectured solutions to urban problems read as academic, and he offers no practical plans to translate them into action. But those are smaller issues within an amusing read. getAbstract recommends his welcome distillation of current thinking about cities to those who live in one, who might be considering living in one or who swear they never would.
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VINE VOICEon 12 April 2011
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This is an enjoyable book that has been well written by someone who knows his subject and can explain it clearly and interestingly. It switches between cities in the developed and developing world and the same cities through their history so he is able to explain his points in relation to geography, economics and time.

The one criticism I do have of the book is that I would have liked to have had more empirical evidence within the book, be it tables, graphs etc. Usually I am not a fan of books with too much evidence presented in it but in this case I felt it was lacking.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in cities and their development. I would also read future books by this author as the writing is of a very high standard.
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on 15 February 2011
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All his championing of the city hits the spot. Glaeser's preaching to the converted, I'm a graduate of Urban Design, I've designed and led city walks in London, Paris and Barcelona, I've taught FE courses on London and social history, I'm a committed flaneur, urbanite and coughing, spitting Londoner. But... most denizens of the city (particularly cities in developing countries) are there not from choice but from necessity. Plus we're staring down the barrel of environmental catastrophe that's focused on the most densely packed and profligate cities while technology offers us options to decentralise like never before... the book touches on these things, but... Triumph? Not entirely. An interesting read, though. And one to lend to friends.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 15 March 2012
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While it sounds like a potentially dull read, Triumph of the City is wonderfully written and will challenge your views on urban living. The views of the author are of particular pertinence in the UK where people are being priced out of the housing market due to chronic housing shortages. The author's response is to build, and build high, arguing that dense urban living is better for all of us, and for the environment. His arguments are persuasive and certainly won me over on many points. However, I felt he underestimates the disadvantages of over-development and lack of green spaces, common issues in cities.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 24 March 2011
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Any book that has Steve Levitt endorsing it has to be worth looking at, if you liked Feakanomics and found that stirred your thinking - then this will do the same. I got this about a week ago, and I'm on my second read through. It's that good. Edward Glaeser writes in a style that is immediately understandable, but also technical enough for the reader to get their teeth into.

As a city boy who moved to a quieter part of the world a few years ago, I always wondered what exactly it was that missed about the big city - as in almost every way our lives now are better than they were. Reading this book I have began to articulate the factors that I miss and wonder about how to replace them.

Almost anyone who wants an insight into how modern city culture works, either on a social, economic or planning level will find this book a deeply challeging read. You may not agree with the conclusions - but you will find things to reflect on. For people thinking of moving from the 'city' to 'quieter suburbs' read this and think carefully. Maybe the noise and the clutter is what you seek rather than the twilight of the commuter belt.
7 people found this helpful
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VINE VOICEon 6 April 2011
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The title to this book really does describe what it sets out to do: to make the case for city/urban living, as against the instinctive idea that many of us have: that rural is best. He makes what seems to be the unanswerable case that as well as being 'green' in environmental terms, it also has the capacity to progress the human condition: it makes for a smarter and more creative society. The introduction, as with the rest of the book, provides an impressive jargon-free summary of the arguments in favour of the authors view, and is written in an attractive, conversational style. The book is divided into quite short chapters, which means that it is a leisurely read and can be put down and returned to at will.

I liked the fact that the author was not giving us the usual expert's perspective: 'do as I say, not as I do' because, whilst making the 'green' case for urban/city living, he admits that for self-serving reasons he has opted for the suburban, environmentally unfriendly lifestyle, a lifestyle which is the opposite to the one which he advocates in the book. He is clearly well-travelled and it goes without saying, that he provides intelligent insight to those cities of the world that he has chosen for comparison.

My immediate reaction to the book was that it would date almost immediately. Not so, because the book presents a snapshot of how the world of technology and the environment has changed since the 1970's. It will prove of value to future students with an interest in man's progress, or lack of progress.

Although the book has an American bias, the author, unusually for an American, has taken the trouble to look in detail at the politics of those countries and how they influence attitudes toward, technology, education, housing and the environment, all relevant to urban living. There is little to criticise in terms of how British politics have affected British lives in terms of, for example, housing and education. I particularly liked his take on the attitudes of Prince Charles and Ken Livingstone toward urban and rural development. He was not impressed with the former!

Were I a professional book critic, I am sure that I could find something about the book which did not please me. The fact is that I enjoyed it.
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