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David Wallace
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Capital of the World: A Portrait of New York City in the Roaring Twenties

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  34 ratings  ·  11 reviews
A portrait of NewYork City in the roaring twenties.
ebook, 288 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Lyons Press (first published June 1st 2011)
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Jill Hutchinson
If you are looking for a book on NYC in the Roaring Twenties, this 'aint it. This doesn't mean that it isn't interesting but the title is misleading. Instead, the book is comprised of short chapters about famous and infamous people who lived during the 1920s but whose fame did not necessarily begin or mold the ambiance of NYC in that decade, with the exception of Mayor Jimmy Walker and "Texas" Guinan, the queen of the speakeasies.

Most of the subjects are familiar and cover all aspects of NYC s
Renee Hirshfield
I grew up in New York City and still bask in the memories of my life there. And ever since my preteen years, I’ve been very interested in the decade known as The Roaring Twenties. What could be better, I thought, than a book about my beloved New York in my beloved 1920s?

Well, as it turns out, just about any piece of writing could surpass Capital of the World: A Portrait of New York City in the Roaring Twenties, which essentially is a series of term papers gone bad. While much of its content is i
Kat (Lost in Neverland)

What started out as a long-winded, not very well written, essay on certain portions of New York City in the 1920's, slowly but surely became an engrossing, even amusing, story with tragic characters and intriguing, previously unknown entrepreneurs. (lord, was that a long sentence)

Thankfully, this book is split apart into sections, so you can skip those more dragging sections (for me, it was the sports and Mafia ones) to the interesting ones (such as Literature, the Harlem Renaissance, and the L
Rob Atkinson
If you are looking for a good history of New York City in the 1920s, one that really brings the period to life, look elsewhere. While this is an entertaining enough read, it fails utterly to deliver on the promise of the title.

David Wallace has served as an editor at People Magazine, and that makes perfect sense, as this book is a compendium of quick biographical sketches of figures who first found fame in New York in the 20s, each only of about the depth one would find in a People magazine prof
Martin Lund
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-york
Capital of the World has an attention-grabbing subtitle - A Portrait of New York City in the Roaring Twenties. Sadly, the book does not really deliver what it promises: on balance, it isn't really about New York nor about the 1920s. Collecting a number of capsule biographies about people who were active in New York in that decade, it all too often dedicates more attention to years before or after the supposedly central decade and about people who are only tangentially related to the city. It is ...more
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This well-written breezy history is much better than its title. The publisher obviously wanted to add one of those subtitles--in this case "a portrait of New York City in the Roaring Twenties." It is so much more than that. It's more like how NY in the 20s helped shape American taste.

All the characters and events take place in the 1920s--a pivotal decade in the City's history (and the world's)--but Wallace gives the reader the background and the follow-up. All the greatest hits are here: Prohib
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Wallace is so exuberant, and the book is such fun to read. Each chapter is like a vignette about a popular icon of the 1920s, both well-remembered, and more obscure. He has chapters on sports figures, politicians, gangsters, dancers, writers, madams, Harlem, the Algonquin Round Table… It’s a dizzying kaleidoscope.

The problem is that many of the people of whom Wallace writes were more famous before the ‘20s or after, and he writes complete biographies. So, many of the chapters only tangentially t
Jul 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sold
Capital of the World is a romp through the crazy decade before it all came crashing down.

Wallace’s book is a survey, not a deep dive, into the key people and moments of the decade. It’s all here: Mobsters, jazz, Prohibition, Harlem, the Algonquin Round Table, and more.

One complaint: Somewhere in here, twice, he misspells “expatriate” as “ex-patriot.” Egad. Worse still, it’s right later in the book. Needs a better editor!

This book will whet your appetite, but it won’t fill you up.

More reviews at
Erasmo Guerra
The author does a great job of arranging these biographical sketches of New York personalities from the 1920s, but I expected a more entertaining read. It's a bit dry. Felt like I was reading encyclopedia entries. Not as "enthralling" as the jacket copy suggests. Though the book does provide a solid bibliography to other books--memoirs and such--that I'm going to seek out. ...more
Rosalinda Morgan
The title is misleading. It was a struggle but I finished reading the book. It was not what I expected to read. I was hoping to read about life in the 1920s in NY, not profiles of celebrities who made their names in New York and their life after the '20s. ...more
Taylor Berenda
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved it. It showered New York in a different way than what I know of it today.
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"David Wallace is a journalist who has covered celebrities and the movie industry for over twenty years. He lives in Los Angeles." ...more

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