Bryan Appleyard

Going To Town

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier

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Macmillan 336pp £25 order from our bookshop

After the Portuguese arrived in 1543, the xenophobic Japanese restricted foreigners to the city of Nagasaki. The Portuguese were eventually kicked out for meddling in politics and religion and were replaced by the Dutch; but they, too, were penned up in the city. For 300 years Western technology flowed in through this one port and the smartest people in Japan travelled there to encounter Europe’s finest. Nagasaki, says Harvard economist Edward Glaeser, was the foundation of Japan’s greatness.

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