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The Spirit of Cities:
Why the Identity of a City Matters in a Global Age
Daniel A. Bell & Avner de-Shalit
With a new preface by the authors

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [in PDF format]


"The book is extremely interesting and entertaining for lovers of cities all over the world, and perhaps even for those who are not, because The Spirit of Cities is quite insightful and takes the reader on a thought-provoking personal journey. Moreover, the style of the book is attractively conversational (even autobiographical). . . . It is also worth mentioning that The Spirit of Cities, combining strolling and storytelling with cutting-edge theory, encourages debate on new ways of inquiry in the social sciences."--Agnieszka Ogrodowczyk, European Spatial Research and Policy


"In a field saturated with superficial rankings and business surveys, The Spirit of Cities represents the triumph of the aesthetic over the commercial. By walking and living in the world's capitals--a novel and admirable methodology that proves more revealing than any theory--Bell and de-Shalit untangle the riddles of our most intriguing cities. This book is as beautiful as it is insightful."--Parag Khanna, author of How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance

"There aren't many new ideas in political theory, but Daniel Bell and Avner de-Shalit definitely have a new idea, and a good one: that cultivating 'the spirit of cities' is the best antidote to global homogenization. The nine cities that they use as examples are presented with an innovative and engaging mix of personal anecdote, history, and theoretical reflection. They have produced a book that sparkles, which is also something new in political theory."--Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

"While cities are distinguished by their architecture and physical appearance, Bell and de-Shalit make a compelling case that many major world cities--and their inhabitants--also express their own distinctive ethos or values. The Spirit of Cities takes the reader on a wide-ranging and lively personal journey."--Witold Rybczynski, author of Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas about Cities

"The Spirit of Cities presents a new approach to the study of cities in which the focus is placed on a city's defining ethos or values. The style of the book is attractively conversational and even autobiographical, and far from current social science positivism. For a lover of cities--and perhaps even for one who is not--The Spirit of Cities is consistently good reading."--Nathan Glazer, author of From a Cause to a Style: Modernist Architecture's Encounter with the American City

"This book tackles an agenda that has been sorely lacking in modern political philosophy. Its methodology is impressionistic. The result is unclassifiable, though the category that would probably best encompass it is belles lettres. These are essays in the classical sense. In the spirit of Montaigne, they seek to describe a personal and therefore necessarily idiosyncratic perspective. I found the book extremely entertaining to read, and quite insightful throughout."--Daniel Weinstock, Université de Montréal

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File created: 11/22/2015

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