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Joel Kotkin's short book is an account of the city through history, from its prehistoric precursors to its future. It examines how the urban form has evolved over the course of its history, and places particular emphasis on the timeless role of the city as the crossroads of peoples and cultures, as a locus of trade, and as an artistic centre.
In a manner not seen since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, technology is reshaping the landscape of American life. There is a debate afoot as to whether computer networks and the Internet are revolutionizing productivity, but there can be no argument about whether they are revolutionizing the organization of space. Just as the railroad, telegraph, and mass-production factor produced the manufacturing cities and towns of the industrial economy, the rise of the digital economy is creating a new geography of economic life. But while "vertical cities" have lost population, mid-sized horizontal cities better adapted to the automobile and better able to offer a quality of life comparable to the suburbs have grown rapidly.
Kotkin reveals the shared traits that have helped certain dispersed ethnic groups (Jews, British, Japanese, Indians and Chinese, to name a few) to triumph in the international arenas of business, technology and communication.
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