Joel Kotkin’s new book, The City: A Global History, discusses the evolution of cities from the earliest origins to the present. He maintains that successful cities have always been three things–places sacred, safe and busy. He traces the shift in cities over time, from the classical to the Islamic, Chinese and Renaissance cities to the industrial and modern eras. Our town, Los Angeles, has a prominent place in modern urban history as the original model for the sprawled, suburbanized city. Detested by many traditional urbanists, LA nevertheless remains a critical laboratory for the future of cities not only in America but around the world.