I have been enjoying the fairly recent spurt of books that explore the history and meaning of homes and houses, such as Lucy Worsley's If Walls Could Talk and Bill Bryson's At Home, and I have always been a faithful reader of Witold Rybczynski's explorations of architecture and cities. Writers like these concentrate their books on a particular concept or structure, and dedicate themselves to seeing how long they can spin this initial thread of an idea.
P.D. Smith's approach is different: City is not the kind of book that allows the reader to see a subject up close, but rather, to see how far a subject is capable of reaching into the far corners of the world and the depths of time. The pleasure in reading City comes from moving quickly from subject to subject, skipping one moment from a paragraph on urban cemeteries to another on graffiti, and linking a chapter on hotels to another ...
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