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Book Review: Triumph of the City

I grew up on a farm, spent my teenage years in the suburbs, and now I live in a small city and hope to live in a larger city within in the next couple years. I've done most kinds of living in my 21 years of life, and while I remember my childhood in the country fondly I have to say that I am really into city living. I like city living for a lot of the reasons Edward Glaeser brings up in his book, Triumph of the City, specifically how I do believe it makes us smarter, greener, and healthier. It's no secret that I'm a huge proponent of environmentalism (I co-host an environmental book podcast and just started a new feature about environmental books here), and while I do love nature, I recognize that the best thing environmentalists can do for their environment is to live in an urban environment. As Glaeser points out, the common misconception is that being good to the environment means living in nature, being one with it, and all of that stuff. But as I can testify as someone who has lived in rural and suburban environments, "being one with nature" means hurting nature faster. You drive more, longer distances, and more frequently when you live further away from places you need to be. Places like the store, your job, and entertainment establishments.

Luckily, Glaeser is not too hard on the people who live in suburban environments. He even succumbed to the glory of them himself, leaving the city for burbs once he settled down with a family. Glaeser recognizes that it's not so much the people living the suburbs that are the problem, it's a lack of appropriate policies across that country keeping cities from growing. This often makes rents in cities high, forcing more people to move out of the city and into the burbs where it is cheaper for them to buy a home even if they are forced to drive to work every day. Which is one of the major problems with suburbs.

Triumph of the City is an engrossing book. I was constantly trying to find a time to read some more of this because it is so full of information. Honestly, nothing in Triumph of the City is that shocking. It's all pretty common sense, and the majority of the things he brings up I have thought of before. What makes it interesting is the way everything is presented in one place, with supporting evidence, and the argument works. For the most part anyway, there were a few things I disagree with Glaeser on (but I'm not going to nit pick with him. He's trying to encourage more people to live in cities and that is a-okay in my book). Even though I was intensely enthusiastic about this book, I could see that not everyone would love it. Glaeser is not necessarily entertaining, he lays out the facts for you in a controlled, purposeful manner. Even if you're not interested in the environmental aspects of this book, the first half offers a wonderful history of the American city and profiles the triumphs and downfalls of many cities across the country.

I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you make a purchase using one of my links I will earn a small percentage which will then go back into this blog. I received this book as part of TLC Book Tours.