Sunday, February 13, 2011

Triumph of the City: Book Review

Triumph of the City
by Edward Glaeser

Penguin Press, Copyright 2011
338 pages, ISBN 9781594202773

Rob's Rating: 4/5

Quote from Book: "Great cities are not static, they constantly change and take the world along with them."

This is the first time I've been asked to review a book written by a Harvard professor. And when you consider where I live, I may seem like an odd choice for a book about cities.

According to author Edward Glaeser "...Americans should live in denser, more urban environments."

I'm the opposite by choosing to live on an island considered to be one of the world's most isolated. I feel like a rebel after reading this book. And if I agree with Glaeser, I should feel guilty at the same time. 

Even though Glaeser makes a strong case for cities, I'm not moving. And yet, I've always been attracted to them. In truth, I love New York.

Glaeser's writing provokes thought and controversy depending on your beliefs. He excels at analyzing the great cities of the world including their history and challenges. Glaser provides research and insight on how to make our cities better and stronger. His work serves as a blueprint for the future. Skyscrapers are not an endangered species in Glaeser's world.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Triumph of the City:

"An open city can't exist in a closed nation." (page 251)

"There is no such thing as a successful city without human capital." (page 223)

"Information technology is changing the world, making it more idea intensive, better connected and ultimately more urban." (page 37) 

"Poverty often shows that a city is functioning well." (page 257)

Environmentalists may cringe a few times while reading Glaeser's work. Actually, the author suggests that they "...toss copies of this book into the recycling bin."

I won't even mention his take on Thoreau. Okay, I will because it's just too good: " a somewhat underemployed Harvard graduate," and "Thoreau's walk in the woods did much more for his soul than for the woods themselves."

Glaeser is biased towards cities. And I'm biased towards small towns. But I like to be challenged and Glaeser succeeded.

My thanks to Trish at TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to host. Visit the TLC website for a list of blogs participating. For more information on Dr. Edward Glaeser, read his bio on Wikipedia.


  1. I haven't read this book, but I would say that cities and small towns function in very similar ways. It is the middle condition--the suburb--that is both unsustainable and depressing.

  2. Thanks for giving this book a try even though your own opinions seem to be the polar opposite of the authors! I'm glad you found it challenging even if you didn't agree with his theories.

    I'm glad you were on this tour - you give a great counterpoint to the book.

  3. I'm with you, Rob, the smaller the town the better, but I also love visiting big cities. You just sold me a copy of this book. Thanks!


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