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The Bridge: The Building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
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The Bridge: The Building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  151 ratings  ·  21 reviews
With a new preface and afterword by the author and drawings by Lili Rethi.

Towards the end of 1964, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge--linking the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island with New Jersey--was completed. It remains an engineering marvel almost forty years later--at 13,700 feet (more than two and a half miles), it is still the longest suspension bridge
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Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 1st 2003 by Walker Books (first published 1964)
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Julie
Not really thinking a book about bridge building would be so interesting, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this short piece held so much--and not just about bridges, but the lives of those involved. More specifically, the lives of those we never hear about in the news, the people who really put bridges together. I never realized until after this book, that bridge building was such a...game in a way for people who worked on the things. Gay Talese takes every word and makes it meaningfu ...more
Joyce
Profiles of the men who worked on bridges constructed in the mid-century. They were like migrant workers, except each stint lasted a few years.

Seems they all drank prodigiously after hours and hence must have worked with fierce hangovers. It's amazing these bridges are still standing.

Talese's style annoys me at times. He certainly was a product of his time, i.e. the good old sixties when it was a man's world. I suppose I have to cut him some slack.
William
Bridges fascinate me, so I was looking forward to learning something about the longest suspension bridge in the Americas. However, Talese frequently does something while describing concrete historical occurrences that I simply can't stand - he writes in the conditional mood. Granting that he's a journalist and not a historian I can forgive him for some of this, but whole paragraphs of conditional mood are just terrible, sloppy, high school-level writing. I have a greater appreciation of the Verr ...more
Seth
Aug 22, 2007 Seth rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: NYC history fans / 20th C. Architecture fans
Talese writes a interesting account of the building of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, however at only 150 pages really only skims the surface of the many elements that go into building a mega-structure such as this. It is an enjoyable read because of the amount of first hand information included (he moved to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn during the building of the bridge) such as interviews, and personal tours he went on during its construction, However I think he tried to include too many details without ...more
Lindsey
Talese can make anything interesting, and he does here in "The Bridge." The book is seamless, with a narrative that weaves around a whole cast of characters. The prose is stunning, often lyrical and poetic. You can easily fly through this book.
thomas
I have two odd obsessions: Maps and Bridges.

This book definitely sated the latter. Talese is a great writer and the book contains wonderful illustrations and photographs.

If you are into bridges this book is a must.
Pete
brilliantly detailed portraits of the lives affected by the building of the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, which I can see from the corner I live on. Not polemic at all, just flawless short narrative non-fiction. The passage about two young boys returning to what was once their home and is now a concrete approach to the massive bridge is perfection. Is a quick 144 pgs. probably only for nonfic obsessives and people who are at least passingly familiar with the monumental nature of the narrows bridge ...more
Stéfanni Mota
A good book, full of gripping stories of regular 'boomers'. Gay Talese ended up being one of my favourite writers. I started reading this book for my journalism course, but I'd recommend it for anyone in any profession.
Leslie Nicoll
This was a short book and I am glad it was. If it had gone on and on in excruciating detail about building the V-N Bridge I probably would have lost interest and stopped reading, as I do with so many non-fiction books. Instead it was short and sweet and right to the point and I found it very interesting--interesting enough that I was googling websites on how bridges are built, types of bridges and so on. Now I know where the Indian ironworkers come from. What I still don't understand is how the ...more
Carl
An excellent tale of the men who made the bridge, those affected by its construction and unintentionally a document of a fading culture. marvelous sociological history but not for those who are looking for a book just on how the bridge was built.
Michael J. Toro
While this work deserved praise when originally published as a magazine article, as a book the selfsame praise becomes rather strained. Talese's journalistic approach to the construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was (circa 1964)commendable in his role as a journalist; the bridge, at the time, being a news-related matter. Now, nearly 50 years later, a reader would come to expect something more substantial in the way of history...especially from a book titled, The Bridge: The Building of th ...more
Gary
Short book. Some good narratives. Some good history. A lot of typos in the Kindle version. If you want to learn about the bridge, I'd goto the web Instead.
Josh Hamacher
I think some of my disappointment with this book stems from a fundamental misunderstanding on my part: I was expecting a book about the building of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge. But it's actually a book about the men who built that bridge, a subject I have considerably less interest in.

There were just enough details about the construction to keep me reading, but barely. I also disliked the writing style; it's extremely informal and flowery to the point of detracting from the narrative (in my opi
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Dev
A slim book but one of the first to deconstruct a great public works project through the manifold lens of an entire community. The takeaway in this age of Tarp and Stimulus is the relative ease at which the Bridge was decided upon and the acceptance of work related dangers, and in fact, their celebration. Here workers compete as teams to build a bridge faster than the guys on the other side of the suspension cable; now public employee unions compete for the greatest number of perks.
Jim Lane
A nice little early effort from Talese which shows glimpses of the greatness to come in his future works. Much less about the actual construction of the bridge than the people involved both in creating it and affected by it. A must read only for completists who want to read everything by Talese, but also a nice piece of history for New Yorkers who almost undoubtedly take the bridge for granted.
Mtrim
Mar 07, 2013 Mtrim added it
If you can find this one, it' a great book about the men who worked on the building of the Verrazano Narrows bridge. Who they were, why they do things and work in places that most normal people wouldn't go near. Working up high before safety nets were part of the construction process, these are some brave people. And Talese is a great writer, already evident in this early work.
Derrick Schneider
I like Gay Talese's writing quite a bit, and this book represents his style well: in-depth reporting on the actual workers constructing the bridge. It's easy to tell the grand story of a bridge project, but Talese excels at the "little stories."

The Kindle edition of this book is marred by scores of typos, as if it was digitized via OCR and never double-checked.
Ray
An amiable look at the characters and people who built this bridge, the book has the feel of a long new yorker article. But like those History Channel documentaries, it's entertaining but insignificant. On a side note, the e-reader version, which I read, has several significant translation typos. An editor should read and update.
Marion Littman
Fascinating detailed history of the bridge. Tells the story through the perspective of several individuals who worked on the bridge. Learned not only about this bridge, but also about bridge building workers as a group, who apparently move around from project to project across the continent.
Brian
Great nonfiction account of the building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in NYC. It sounds boring, but the book is a masterclass in storytelling. He turns something seemingly mundane into a compelling story. It's up there with John McPhee's Oranges in that sense.
Karen
Jun 17, 2012 Karen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: g
A quick and interesting read. A must if you, like me, watched the bridge being built. I will look at the bridge a little differently now!
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Gay Talese is an American author. He wrote for The New York Times in the early 1960s and helped to define literary journalism or "new nonfiction reportage", also known as New Journalism. His most famous articles are about Joe DiMaggio, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
More about Gay Talese...
Thy Neighbor's Wife Honor Thy Father The Gay Talese Reader: Portraits and Encounters The Kingdom and the Power: Behind the Scenes at The New York Times: The Institution That Influences the World Fame and Obscurity

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