Industrial-Sized Deals TextBTS15 Shop Women's Handbags Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon $5 Albums $5 Off Fire TV Stick Grocery Shop Popular Services pivdl pivdl pivdl  Amazon Echo Starting at $99 Kindle Voyage Shop Back to School with Amazon Back to School with Amazon Outdoor Recreation Baby Sale

Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2002
Recently I became interested in the year 1939 as a "hinge" year; so many things happened that year and it was a dividing point between the awful world of the 30s and the second World War. So I considered writing an article detailing that year, including the movies released (Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz), the events leading up the the outbreak of the war, and, of course the Fair, with the wonderful and iconic Trylon and Perisphere. Others may have covered the movies and the war, but Gelernter has covered the fair in many (not all) of the ways I wanted to hear about it. He has several theses which he presents well, whether or not you agree with him:
1. The world (or the U.S.A.) was more optimistic than we are.
2. The utopia presented in the exhibits of the fair has come about in many ways.
3. There was a sense of authority in institutions, and a measure of trust and security given to them, much of which has been lost today.
4. We are not significantly more sophisticated than the citizens of that time.
5. Men wore ties and didn't mind.
Some of his theses are more superficial than others ....
I really enjoyed this book. The author communicates a love of the fair as being not only an event in itself, but emblematic of the culture and times within which it took place. He does that in two ways: by branching off for extended meditations on the cultural differences between then and now, and by interjecting a kind of a love story as narrated by a fair-goer as she remembers going with her then-boyfriend. Quite a bit of plot regarding this love story is worked into the book, which makes the book an odd mix, as if it had taken place during the sinking of Titanic or during the Civil War.
Hmmmm....
Anyway, although this wouldn't be the stopping place for books about the fair (I was desperate for more pictures, at least), it's a wonderful starting point to find out about the year. Best of all, he treats the people and attitudes of the time seriously and doesn't let present-day cynicism interfere with his appraisal. I'm not sure I agree with all of his conclusions but I like what he says about the "American religion", manners, and cultural knowledge in general, and the chapter on "Dynamite, Manhatten, 1939" is worth reading on its own; in fact, it's almost a precis of what he is trying to say.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2001
I'm one of those people who has never been to New York City, though I would love to see it. This book wonderfully transports you to that city in the years of 1939-1940 and to that World's Fair. It was a time that people thought of science and technology as something that had the power to transform their lives in a positive manner, unlike the misplaced cynicism encountered today, even though we have now realized many of the dreams of that long ago fair, and many more.
David Gelernter takes you on a tour of that fair, including the various national and corporate exibits and pavilions, many were absolutely amazing, even by today's standards. Several are described in intricate detail, and being in the 1930's electro-mechanical control systems were the rule, some being very complex. Gelernter also portrays some typical hypothetical people visiting the fair and what they did. How people dressed back then, and also the underlying societal feelings, are covered, the war in Europe being on everyones mind.
This is a very well written and comprehensive account of this most famous of fairs, I immensely enjoyed it, and Gelernter covers that last few hours of the Fair with poignancy as it closed in 1940. This account makes me wish I could travel back in time and see it myself, a wistful longing not to be.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2005
I've always been intrigued by the iconic images of the Trylon and Perisphere, from when I first saw them on a U.S Postage stamp many years ago. This book offers a way to travel back in time to live through the fair, led by the author through the eyes of fictional characters experiencing the (factual) fair. What is amazing is how the author skillfully weaves together everything to create such a compelling story. I had also bought the (100%) factual books "New York's 1939-1940 World's Fair (Postcard history series) and Dover publications' "The New York World's Fair. Both of these book offer lots of nice snapshots, but do not make the Fair come to life as does

David Gelernter"s "1939: The Lost World of the Fair." Highly recommended!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2004
This is one of my all-time favorite books. Gelernter tells us that he intends to take us on a "virtual reality" tour of the 1939 fair. Unlike Miles Beller's more recent effort, he chooses a bright, energetic and ambitious woman as his protagonist and lets us all gradually fall in love with her. It's almost hard to see the gradual transition from our relationship with her as just eyes and ears into something much more subtle and complex.

I cannot say much more without ruining the experience. Buy the book and share the experience of a very special moment in time.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2000
This work does get at the sense of the New York World's Fair of 1939 by interpolating fact with fiction. However, in terms of a fact-fiction treatment of the '39 World's Fair, a more incisive work is Miles Beller's DREAM OF VENUS (OR LIVING PICTURES), also available on Amazon. Indeed, DREAM plays with the notion of invention and actualities, providing a telling perspective from which to view our notions of "progress" and "Tomorrow."
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
My mother used to talk about how wonderful the World's Fair had been.
One of the cruel things about intergenerational relations is how impossible it is to communicate important things about social change. I _want_ to tell my kids about Kennedy, about Vietnam, about the McCarthy era. I hear myself talking and I know it sounds just as boring as it was to me hearing my folks talking about Roosevelt, or the Depression, or the World's Fair.
This book is fascinating and moving and it has important things to say. Gelernter is trying, with honesty and intelligence, to explore the question "What was it really like for our folks?" How can anyone _really_ know? Nobody can, but for a time as recent as 1939 it's well worth trying.
I did go to the, was it 1963, New York World's Fair. My mother said I just _had_ to, even though everybody said it was a pale shadow of the 1939 fair. I remember an IBM exhibit done by Charles Eames, featuring twelve movie screens and simultaneous shots from twelve viewpoints of, say, two train cars coupling (one closeup, one aerial, one of the dispatchers board) while the narrator said something stupid and shallow about data and information. I remember that the Coca-Cola pavilion smelled of Coke. It wasn't like 1939.
About once a chapter something pulls you up short. Sometimes it's a trivial detail ("those tractor trains at the Bronx Zoo whose horns played "Boys and Girls Together" were from the Fair.") Other times it's not so trivial.
William Manchester tried something like this in "The Glory and the Dream." Let's see, was it David Halberstam who recently wrote "The Fifties?" Gelernter's book is more readable, and more profound.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2009
The main reason I wanted to read this book was to form mind-pictures of how the fair might have looked, because I love art deco and streamline moderne design. The book succeeded very well at that, with the help of excerpts from a contemporary fictional diary that was kept by a visitor as a young woman. Her character was exceptionally observant and articulate and her memories are fascinating.

I got a lot more out of this book than mind-pictures. The diary excerpts are put into historical context by the author, and his commentary draws comparisons between the character of the American people then and now - and we don't look very good in comparison. They had challenges ahead of them and knew it - and they dealt with them admirably. It would be a good idea for all of us to understand better how people of that time period looked at the world - our survival might depend on a major attitude adjustment in their direction.

Anyone who is interested in the idea of technology being the means from which we're delivered from our problems would probably find this book very interesting. People who lived at the time of the fair had strong feelings about that and the fair both reflected and influenced them. Fascinating to think about whether or not the results were what was hoped for. Worlds Fairs in general are very interesting to me because of expectations of the future that people of the particular time period had, and how they expressed their expectations.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 1999
I thoroughly enjoyed this book's combination of history and fiction. It was very well written, very well researched and the descriptions of the 1939 World's Fair are truly outstanding.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 1998
This book is essential reading for any serious student of American history. David Gelernter takes the reader on a tour of the New York 1939 World's Fair; an event that, to steal a phrase from the 90's, served as the "Mission Statement" of the GI generation that was to build and settle the Levitowns of the nation. A clever, sweeping, powerfully descriptive, and at times poignant account of the Fair, convened at a time when New Deal New York was at the peak of its power, yet hosting a fair which in a fanciful but compelling manner, laid out plans for the postwar decline of the cities, including New York. 1939 was at the cusp of two worlds; this transition was epitomized by the Worlds Fair. Gelernter captures the awful sense of forboding that all thinking American must have shared in 1939 as the world of '30's glamour, shared civic purpose and almost unreal, yet good natured, public naivite was about to be swept into the coming mayhem of world war. The Fair was a brief shining moment between the twin disasters of Depression and World War; Gelernter captures the ambivalence of ordinary (though as presented in the book, highly articulate and observant) people who ponder the mesmerizing beauty and order of the "World of Tomorrow," while wondering if they'll survive Hitler.....much as future generations planned future lives in the shadow of the Bomb or HIV. Buy this book and read it.....not only to learn how we got to our present world, but also to taste, smell, hear, feel and witness the "world of our fathers;" this brilliant work will transport you as few other books can.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2002
As much as I hate to disagree with the other reviewers, I found this book to be a disjointed labyrinth of 1939 NYWF information;
a love story; and the author's own views and philosophy of the
world of the late 1930's, especially pertaining to the New York
City of that era.
The parts about the fair are rather good, but tantalizing in that they are not sufficiently detailed to evoke any real concept of what a particular exhibit was really about. The protagonists of the story seemingly wander about the fair grounds in a haphazard manner, even though the man has a guide book. Interspersed with these meanderings are observations on
manners, morals, politics and a veritable potpourri of what the
author feels is relevant to the era, not to mention the ongoing
love story between the man and woman and their main subject of
discourse--whether or not to have children if they get married.
Let the reader beware--if you're looking for a tour and pictures
of the Fair, this is NOT the book you want. There are much better ones out there. If you like a hodgepodge of Fair and pre-WWII trivia, amalgamated with an author's subjective opinions and a bland love story, you might enjoy this book.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed


 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.