Tory Historian is reading Edward Glaeser's Triumph of the City, an unashamed and sometimes slightly too gung-ho praise of the idea and reality of the city in history. Not that TH disagrees with that; it's just that the language is sometimes immoderately joyful, a mode that is alien to TH. At an early stage, Glaeser says this:
I find studying cities so engrossing because they pose fascinating, important, and often troubling questions. Why do the richest and the poorest people in the world so often live cheek by jowl? How do once-mighty cities fall into disrepair? Why do some stage dramatic comebacks? Why do so many artisitic movement arise so quickly in particular cities at particular moments? Why do so many smart people enact so many foolish urban policies?The last of those, TH thinks, begs the question of whether those people who enact foolish urban policies really are all that smart.