A decent overview of the history of New York's underworld, poverty and vices in the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries.
Although the subjectA decent overview of the history of New York's underworld, poverty and vices in the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries.
Although the subject matter would seem quite interesting, I thought the author approached it in a bit of a dry manner at times. For example, making a list of names of famous gangster in the Lower East Side without telling us anything about these people is useless for the reader. Perhaps it serves as documentation, but the reader of the book will likely not need nor remember such a list of names.
In my opinion, when writing a book for the general public, as this book seems to be aimed at, even the academic author must keep in mind that a reader is best served by compelling stories and storytelling. Some parts of this book accomplished that goal, while others did not. Also, I felt some chapters were a bit short compared to the wealth of possibilities each subject could offer. I suppose that is the downside of a general overview.
To be honest, I found the afterword much more compelling than the preceding chapters. The author discusses what it was like to live in the squalor of 1970s and 80s Lower East Side Manhattan. I'd love to hear more about that....more
The Flatiron building in New York City is one of my favorite buildings. Its curves and angles are so pleasing to the eye, and even today one can hardlThe Flatiron building in New York City is one of my favorite buildings. Its curves and angles are so pleasing to the eye, and even today one can hardly imagine how it manages to stay upright.
Although this book is the story of the Flatiron, even more is it the story of the people who envisioned it, built it, and managed it. It's really the story of one Harry Black, the President of the Fuller Company, which constructed the Flatiron.
Many people probably know that the Flatiron was once officially known as the Fuller building, but I, for one, didn't know a thing about the Fuller Company until now. Fuller, which later came under Harry Black's U.S. Realty trust, built not only the Flatiron, but many other iconic New York buildings. The Times building in Times Square, which kind of looks like an inverse Flatiron? Built by Fuller. Macy's in Herald Square? Also built by Fuller. As well as the Plaza Hotel near Central Park.
This book had so many stories about New York City and its turn of the century Real Estate industry, most of which I've never heard. This is a great book for learning about how the New York of most people's dreams was built by a few powerful companies. It's full of colorful characters, infidelity, union troubles, and much more. And, of course, you learn about the genesis of the Flatiron and what it means to New Yorkers....more
I was looking for a good, comprehensive biography of Abraham Lincoln's life. Mission accomplished.
Of course, you will learn all about Lincoln's politiI was looking for a good, comprehensive biography of Abraham Lincoln's life. Mission accomplished.
Of course, you will learn all about Lincoln's political life, but you also get a sense of who he was as a person. A son, a friend, a father, a husband, a community member. Looking back, we think of Lincoln as a strong, intelligent man of leadership. And he was, but it took him a while to get there. He has his problems and weaknesses just like any other human being.
A reader of this book will see how Lincoln had to fight for everything he earned. He worked his way to the top of American political life, and once he reached the top, he found his work had only just begun. This imperfect, somewhat inexperienced man faced managing a war, dealing with splits between Democrats and Republicans and splits within the Republican party, figuring out how to free slaves and integrate them into a white society that did not want them, and above all trying to save the Union. Why was Lincoln a great man? Because he actually managed to do all of the above, or at least set things on the right path. No other President in American history faced such a great burden.
Although this book isn't exactly a page-turner, it is very easy to follow and provides a very good overview of Lincoln's life, both personal and professional. If you want to have a good foundation for learning about the great Abraham Lincoln, this is an ideal place to begin....more
Gets a bit slow at times, but overall it's a really incredible story. It's amazing what trials these men went through. I can't believe I'm saying thisGets a bit slow at times, but overall it's a really incredible story. It's amazing what trials these men went through. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd recommend watching a documentary or movie about this or reading a summary of the expedition online, and then digging into the details here....more
A very in-depth look at a year (and more) of the Indiana University basketball program coached by the unpredictable Bob Knight. I was impressed with tA very in-depth look at a year (and more) of the Indiana University basketball program coached by the unpredictable Bob Knight. I was impressed with the amount of detail with which Feinstein wrote this book. All the traditions and routines were very fascinating and bring the reader closer to what is going on.
After reading this book, one gets the impression that Bob Knight is a man who, although he has issues with controlling his temper and actions, cares very much about his players and program and simply wants to get the very best out of the young men who play for him.
Although you do not necessarily need to know much about basketball to enjoy this book, it probably helps a bit during the passages about the finer points of the game....more
**spoiler alert** Normally I don't much like novels that follow multiple generations. It's too hard to keep track of everyone, and just when you're us**spoiler alert** Normally I don't much like novels that follow multiple generations. It's too hard to keep track of everyone, and just when you're used to one generation, you've moved on to the next one.
Somehow, this novel breaks that barrier for me. It follows multiple generations over 400 years, skips some generations, and brings new families in and out of the story, but somehow keeps your interest throughout. I think that's because the author is so good at writing relatable characters. You feel like you know these characters even if you haven't read much about them yet, and you truly come to care about them. Without good characters, a multiple-generation story just doesn't work.
New York: The Novel is a great combination of novel and history. It takes the fictional story of a Ducth-Anglo 'old money' family and sets it against all the touchstones of American and New York history -- the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Draft Riots, the Triangle fire, the stock market crash -- all the way up to 9/11. Also included in the narrative are so many familiar New York landmarks including the Five Points, the Public Library, the Chrysler building, and all the splendor of Fifth Avenue. While reading this book, one gets to see New York change over the decades as one building and neighborhood gets built over another, yet somehow the spirit of the city never changes.
I have to say I really enjoyed this novel. It's epic-length and it deserves to be. If you are from New York, it will make you feel at home. If you are from anywhere else, like me, you will still feel at home. We all have a little New York in us....more
A wonderful collection of essays from the pages of the New York Times. These stories cover New York in all its colors - street basketball, finding anA wonderful collection of essays from the pages of the New York Times. These stories cover New York in all its colors - street basketball, finding an apartment, washing windows, rooting for sports teams. This is a good book not only for those from New York, but perhaps especially for those who are not from New York, like me. Reading these stories gave me a taste of what it might be like to live in the Big Apple and its boroughs. ...more
Harvey Pekar was one-of-a-kind. He was who he was, and didn't ever try to be anything else. How could he?
His comics give an unsettling look into theHarvey Pekar was one-of-a-kind. He was who he was, and didn't ever try to be anything else. How could he?
His comics give an unsettling look into the life of a guy who, if he wasn't in a comic book, would be practically unknown. Harvey puts it all out there - his insecurities, paranoias, loneliness, frustrations. These are true "slice of life" comics. Sometimes Harvey tries to put a moral to his story, and other times there is no moral, just a story.
The comics aren't all about Harvey. He includes scenes from his workplace (which are sometimes very funny), and other random little stories he came up with. Sometimes he even gives himself a different name, although it's always clear who the character is. It's Harvey. It could only be Harvey.
The artwork is varied and always interesting. Some of the artists (particularly R. Crumb) draw Harvey as a dirty, hairy near-monster, while others portray him closer to reality. These comics may not have the color and beauty of other comic books, but they're great in their own special way.
It's too bad we've lost Harvey. I'd be curious to know what he thinks about the state of things today. One thing is for sure: He would definitely have an opinion and not be afraid to share it. That was Harvey. So is this book....more
Quite simply, these are the stories of people who work the night shift in the New York City area. Most of the stories are really interesting and inspiQuite simply, these are the stories of people who work the night shift in the New York City area. Most of the stories are really interesting and inspirational. Each worker has a different story, different reasons for working at night, and different coping strategies. Even so, there are similarities among all of these hardy individuals. Lack of sleep seems to be the largest theme. Reading this book will make you appreciate people who alter their natural body rhythms to work at night, either willingly or unwillingly. And in no other city than New York could so many people work such a shift....more