In Cities, the acclaimed historian John Reader takes us on a journey of the city--from its earliest example in the Ancient Near East to today's teeming centers of compressed existence, such as Mumbai and Tokyo. Cities are home to half the planet's population and consume nearly three-quarters of its natural resources. For Reader, they are our most natural artifacts, the civic spirit of our collective ingenuity. He gives us the ecological and functional context of how cities evolved throughout human history--the connection between pottery making and childbirth in ancient Anatolia, plumbing and politics in ancient Rome, and revolution and street planning in nineteenth-century Paris. This illuminating study helps us to understand how urban centers thrive, decline, and rise again--and prepares us for the role cities will play in the future.