Urban paradise

Edward Glaeser’s recent enthusiastic appearance on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart was reason enough to pick up this book, and it’s just as perky and full of interesting bits as his interview with the comedian. Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier isn’t just a paean to urban life, it’s an out-and-out love song about the superiority of city dwelling as a means for intellectual, cultural and sustainable living. Glaeser takes an interdisciplinary approach to his study of cities, mingling economics, history and personal narrative. If we could just approach urban life as an Earth-friendly alternative to suburban sprawl, Glaeser argues, we could preserve and have access to more wild and natural space, rather than divvying it up into subdivision lots, and make better use of the agricultural land without constantly increasing the “food miles” traveled. He’s an optimistic urban economist, and it’s hard not to agree with him.