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New York in the 50's

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  83 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
New York in the 50s is Dan Wakefield's story of a unique time and place in cultural history, when New York City was a hotbed of free love, hot jazz, radical politics, psychoanalysis, and artistic expression. Wakefield found himself in the middle of a world in which anything was possible, and he writes about the era with the keen eye of a historian and the first-hand knowle ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 15th 1999 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1992)
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Sep 27, 2016 Andie rated it liked it
Dan Wakefield writes nostalgically about his time in New York City from his college days at Columbia until he leaves for Boston on a Nieman Fellowship in 1963, and makes the reader feel nostalgic too. Nostalgic for the days when rents were affordable, when jazz greats were playing in smoky clubs in the Village. where there were five or six thriving daily newspapers and the printed word was king. Dan Wakefield was seemingly in the midst of it all: writing for Esquire, drinking with James Baldwin ...more
Geoff Balme

Dan Wakefield is that "Going All the Way" guy, also the fellow who edited old Kurt Vonnegut's Letter's book. I didn't know about him until I was rereading a favorable review from Vonnegut of Wakefield's (1970) book about romance and hijinks surrounding returning from the Korean war service.

In this book Wakefield sheds considerable light on the place and times in Greenwich Village, he manages to touch on all the highlights, getting a writing job, the Beats, Jazz and the general atmosphere of soc
Sep 16, 2008 Lisa rated it liked it
The writing was somewhat artless, which was both good -- not gushy or overly romantic, which would have been the kiss of death for the subject -- but also not fiercely compelling. Still, overall it was a fun read. It relates to my job in a kind of tangential and interesting way -- these are the old guys I work for -- so I was in the market for this kind of reminiscence. And the chapter on sex and Freudian analysis cracked me up.
Aug 26, 2013 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Really great read. Dan Wakefield is a great writer - even when he was discussing subjects I was less invested in, I was compelled to read carefully due to his prose. The sections on McCarthy era, jazz during the 50s and abortion were pretty eye-opening and a great reminder of how far we've come. Strong rec for anyone interested in this period.
Jun 27, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just wonderful!

It doesn't matter if you've never been to New York. I haven't. Or if the 50s aren't your time. Not mine. This tour of the emotional and physical landscape of New York is for everyone. It's evocative, funny, poignant, informative. A great read.
Mar 03, 2013 Jeff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I know folks who move to New York and liked it have a certain haughtiness about the city, but Wakefield is over the top. If you became an adult in the 1950s and didn't move to New York, you had no guts or no brains or neither. (Hope that's correct grammar). In fact, the first chapter largely consists of quoting people who moved there, how they got their, and their idea that it was the only reasonable thing for an intelligent person to do.

Is there a word that's the equivalent of hagiography, but
Oct 06, 2014 David rated it really liked it
Enjoyable firsthand account from a journalist of his life in "the Village" among an intimate community of writers and other artists. For someone who knew JD Salinger before he became a recluse, had Jack Kerouac pass out on his couch, and otherwise went pub-hopping with the "Who's who" of the literary world of the times, Wakefield manages to check his ego at the door and write genuine, balanced essays after years of hindsight. He gives credit for the fellow writers he valued and their sometimes m ...more
Gabriel Germain
Jul 17, 2016 Gabriel Germain rated it liked it
Though Wakefield's writing is at time quite vivid, the autobiographical information comes out on top on too many occasions leading me to wonder if the title is truly New York in the 50s or My New York in the 50s. Nevertheless, Wakefield clearly made his niche in the Big Apple and the content, when he permits it, reflects this eloquently. More of a 3,5 for me, but then again I still feel annoyed with the 100 occasions when he mentions friends' comments on his on work. I understood that the writin ...more
keith koenigsberg
Mar 19, 2015 keith koenigsberg rated it liked it
the book jacket accurately says: "This is his memoir of '50s Manhattan, a charmed, gentle, evocative re-creation of a time when sex was more talked about than done (and when done, was done in secret), a time when psychoanalysis was hailed as the new religion, booze was the soporific, Esquire and the Village Voice the journalistic pacesetters, jazz the music." I say: A charming and romantic but certainly rose-colored tour of the characters he rubbed shoulders with in the heyday of the beats.
Jun 05, 2014 Kristen rated it liked it
I was hoping to get a little more genuine history, although the chapter with a first-hand account of working with Dorothy Day was especially good. The personal anecdotes aren't that bad and they're padded out a bit with some from other writers but by and large it's just a whole lot of white hetero folks (James Baldwin excepted) talking about the good/bad old days.
Judy Gacek
Feb 17, 2014 Judy Gacek rated it it was amazing
The fifties were a moment in time. It was a time when the nation was pretty much culturally on the same page. People were conformists, connected. and prosperous. NYC was the center of the world and everything started there. This book does a good job of describing what it was like. It was a very happy trip down memory lane to revisit those times.
May 19, 2015 Kelly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I felt like this book was all about Dan Wakefield bragging about whom he knew, how cool he was during that age and how his views were completely justified. I will admit the 50's time period have never interested me. There was parts of the book that sparked my interest and will look into some more - Dorothy Day, the Joe McCarthy scandal and the time he covered the race murder in Mississippi.
Aug 29, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: mfa
Dan Wakefield is a thorough, weathered writer. In this memoir, he gave the reader a glimpse of his personal experiences in New York during the 1950s, meeting other writers and living the life of a journalist.
Jessie B.
Part history, part memoir, this book offers a interesting perspective on the 50's that is not conservative but also not part of the beat movement.
Jean Korelitz
Jean Korelitz rated it really liked it
May 08, 2009
Valerie Paley
Valerie Paley rated it liked it
Aug 20, 2013
William rated it liked it
Dec 08, 2008
Mark rated it it was amazing
May 21, 2014
RetroHound rated it really liked it
Dec 07, 2016
Michael Naver
Michael Naver rated it it was ok
Apr 20, 2016
Nicole Vaiana
Nicole Vaiana rated it liked it
May 05, 2016
Michael Adams
Michael Adams rated it really liked it
Mar 29, 2016
Andrea rated it it was ok
Jul 09, 2008
Daryl Colden
Daryl Colden rated it it was amazing
Dec 01, 2013
Greg Goulette
Greg Goulette rated it liked it
Dec 11, 2016
Jul 07, 2008 Joe rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this alot. Different take on a different time.
Geoffrey Kabaservice
Geoffrey Kabaservice rated it really liked it
Oct 22, 2013
Jennifer Wade
Jennifer Wade rated it liked it
Jan 18, 2015
Maria rated it really liked it
May 22, 2008
Maureen Heipp
Maureen Heipp rated it it was amazing
Dec 23, 2014
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