Scripsi’s absence throws terrible burdens on his colleagues who are forced to put down their important blogreading activities in order to chip away at the mountain of returned reading normally seen to by Ed and his tame volunteers. Which was exactly what we were doing when we ran across Hope and Despair in the American City, a pocket sized bit of non-fiction comparing and contrasting the school systems of Syracuse and Raleigh. No longer than an extra long Atlantic piece, the wee tome turned out to be exceptionally good reading for anyone with the slightest interest in the fate of his or her home city, as it was about the bitter fate of Syracuse when its schools remained independent of the surrounding suburbs and the embarrassing success of the merged Raleigh-Wake County school system. When we had finished reading H&D we found ourselves respecting more than ever the increasing success of the Cincinnati Public School system in the face of its isolation from the surrounding suburbs. Case in point: Robert A. Taft High School, created in mid-twentieth-century to keep students from the projects out of the hilltop schools, has shed its hideous past to become a Blue Ribbon School. Read about that in the vanishing daily and then get your hands on H&D, and then you can go back to your thriller.