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Gilded City: Scandal and Sensation in Turn-of-the-Century New York
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Gilded City: Scandal and Sensation in Turn-of-the-Century New York

3.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  46 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
The dark side of the Gilded Age is revealed in this vivid new view of turn-of-the-century New York. Scholar of American culture M. H. Dunlop penetrates the psyche of New York City in the pivotal years made famous by Edith Wharton, the Vanderbilts, and the Rockefellers, unveiling an age that was not genteel and proper but dangerous and predatory.

Drawing on rare primary sour
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 27th 2001 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 2000)
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Overwrought. Hard to see how she missed the mark with such a promising subject. The arrangement of the book in chapters, each on a scandal or social phenomenon, makes the material seem fragmented and repetitive. The author tries terribly hard to shock the reader, but she ends up sounding like a maiden aunt addicted to racy romances. It's rather a mish-mash and nothing hangs together particularly well. A more competent treatment of even a handful of these scandals would be of greater interest.
Marne Wilson
Mar 08, 2014 Marne Wilson rated it liked it
Shelves: power-of-words
I happened to be a student of Mary Helen Dunlop's at the time she was writing this book. When she explained to our research methods class how she had conducted her own research, she was pretty straight-forward. "I read ten years' worth of newspapers on microfilm" was her one-sentence summation. To accomplish this, she actually bought a microfilm reader and set it up in her office, so she wasn't forced to spend all her time in the basement of the library.

Until I actually started to do research on
Very forced attempt to tie in a bunch of anecdotes about life in early 20th century New York (I'm really not sure how Tip the Central Park Zoo elephant is the equivalent of the unemployed workers who protested their fate in life or the young women who were used as prostitutes, but the author really belabors that point!)

I wouldn't recommend this at all - you'd be better off reading some Edith Wharton novels!
Fraser Sherman
Apr 15, 2015 Fraser Sherman rated it liked it
Shelves: history
The book does a good, if very dry job exploring aspects of upper-crust life in New York a little over a century ago: the popularity of diamonds, kinky sex parties, interior decorating fads, art collecting and the willingness of some wealthy to flaunt themselves before the public. However Dunlop seems to have some over-arching theory about how all this conspicuous consumption fits together and she never really argues it, just takes her interpretation as a given. Doesn't hurt the book too much tho ...more
Sarah's Book Nook
I don't see nearly all the problems with the book that other do. It's a collection of loosely related stories of Gilded Age New York. In the present time we seem to have this idea that that time in America, New York in particular, was all glitter and gold. Dunlop certainly shows us this is not the case. Her writing style is fine and she's certainly done her research; there are extensive notes at the end of each chapter. I actually appreciated this, as opposed to authors who throw all the notes t ...more
Jul 03, 2014 Beckydham rated it liked it
Some interesting details in here. It makes you kind of feel like the New Yorkers of the 1890s were horrible people, though.
Sep 30, 2007 Billy rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people with train tickets
If you want to know more about long-forgotten New York miscellany and minutiae, or have ever been curious as to whether Michael Musto would have had a career had he been born 100 years earlier instead, this is for you. Pulpy and fun.
Rachel Pollock
May 11, 2013 Rachel Pollock rated it really liked it
The chapters of this book hang together only loosely, but each one is full of interesting trivia from the news stories of the turn of the century. Oddly, there is also a fair amount of stuff about Chicago as well.
Jun 08, 2008 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing. So much detail on people who were total ciphers. It's like riding the bus with a bunch of undergrads.
Dec 26, 2008 Danadoodle marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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Mary Helen Dunlop was an associate professor of English and women's studies at Iowa State University.
More about M.H. Dunlop...

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