From the earliest human settlements on, Roebuck views the city as ""the point at which Western humanity has been in closest contact with its future."" The ""modern city"" is our own, a product of commutation, electricity, mass production and mass consumption, where we remain daily witness to the chronic plight of the poor and the polarization of middle and lower classes. This polarization ia the social root of the decay and imbalance of the modern urban community. Roebuck sees three choices: do nothing, continue useless palliatives, or use modern technology to ""define the operations and problems of the city in more precise terms."" A positive impulse, but its vagueness betrays Roebuck's lack of hard thinking about her hypotheses. This is essentially a competent textbook. But in both insight and thematic development, it falls short of Lewis Mumford's The City In History on which it seems to be patterned.