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Divided We Stand: A Biography Of New York's World Trade Center Hardcover – December 23, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0465017010 ISBN-10: 0465017010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (December 23, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465017010
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465017010
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #468,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite its coy and misleading subtitle, this is a mesmerizing history of how deep-seated struggles over architectural aspirations, economics, city planning and the exigencies of a democracy undergird the New York cityscape. Taking the planning and building of the twin towers of the World Trade Center as a point of departure, Darton treats readers to a smoothly written and provocative study of everything from the potentially utopian nature of cities to the role of the automobile in urban redevelopment, and from the aesthetics and politics of constructing tall structures (including the Eiffel Tower) to a history of the contested development of lower Manhattan. While grounded in the theories of such diverse thinkers as Jane Jacobs, Peter Kropotkin, John Ruskin, Marshall Berman, LeCorbusier and Lewis Mumford, Darton's dramatic narrative never loses sight of the strong personalities and (often unscrupulous) political hardball that reshaped Manhattan. Central figures include such power players as master planner Robert Moses ("who by his own description hacked his way through New York with a meat ax") and investment developer David Rockefeller and his brother, Nelson, the governor of New York State (whom Darton casually compares to gangsters). A professor of media, technology and cultural studies at Hunter College, Darton is best when elucidating the economic interests behind urban renewal and the destruction of neighborhoods that has often ensued in more than 40 years of Manhattan redevelopment, culminating in the building of one of New York's iconic landmarks. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Among the most widely recognized of human-made structures, New York City's World Trade Center is both beloved for its photogenic skyline presence and vilified for symbolizing bloated bureaucracy and heartless modernism. These two books comprise initial attempts to flesh out the WTC's history, appraise its place in 20th-century architecture, and judge its success as urban design and economic planning. Neither author is an authority on architecture, city planning, politics, or economics, and both treat the WTC itself as a backdrop to the political maneuvering that made its creation possible. Gillespie (American studies, Rutgers) pens an absorbing account incorporating personal interviews and observations, exuding enthusiasm and empathy. In striking contrast, Darton's (cultural studies, Hunter Coll.) study brims with irony, invective, and irrelevant digressions. Where Gillespie sees the New York Port Authority, the WTC's parent, as a powerful agency struggling to fulfill its mandate to facilitate transport and commerce, Darton sees the undiluted evil of unaccountable government officials in pursuit of ignoble ends. The same events are given diametrically opposed interpretations, and a few facts appear to be in dispute. Gillespie examines the tower's planning and construction in far more depth, but both he and Darton take the same superficial approach as Tom Wolfe in From Bauhaus to Our House. For now, architecture librarians will remain better served by Anthony Robin's The World Trade Center (1987). Large urban planning collections, however, may want to add both Twin Towers and Divided We Stand as a lesson in contrasting interpretation.
-David Solt?sz, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

You can tell he has a real love for the story.
pblocke@sprintmail.com
A good amount of time in the book was spent talking about the businesses that had to be relocated or just kicked out due to the full project.
John G. Hilliard
While it did get better as the book went along, I had to dictionary my way through the early parts of the book.
Frederick S. Goethel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is much more than its title implies. Beyond its focus on the World Trade Center, it descibes the development of Lower Manhattan with an inside look at a naked land grab by the Port Authority under the guise of public interest. Other major players include David and Nelson Rockefeller with the apparent collusion of the New York Times. In addition to a lovely image of the WTC rising through the clouds in the frontispiece, each of the nine chapters opens with a beautiful photograph that illustrates the text. As you navigate this lyrically written exposé, don't miss the witty subheads.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. It is a prophetic and daring account of the trade towers written while they were still symbols on our skyline and before anyone but a handful of people cared enough to look at them as something more. This is an incredible book too, because it is the closest we will get to knowing these buildings now, to hearing what they might have told us if they could speak. The author saw the towers as vulnerable and toubled and dangerous, and makes no bones about the violence and greeed written into their building. But above all, his love of New York shines through.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ricky Hunter on December 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
Of course, the twin towers mean many different things and to many different people than they did a year ago when this book first came out. But that, in many ways, is the pleasure of this book. It looks at the twin towers from a perspective not clouded by the recent tradegy of the towers. The author, Eric Danton in Divided We Stand (A Biography of New York's World Trade Center) is unflinching in looking at the creation of these towers on many fronts, including philosophical, economic and political, with the Rockefeller brothers playing the pivotal roles. This book glosses over or ignores the building's technical aspects, for those who are interested (and truthfully, it would have been helpful at times to keep things in perspective). The parts describing terrorism and the towers in ruins (and there are a number of times these are mentioned) are painfully chilling. This is a honest examination of an important part of New York (and now American) history.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Marcus Hinchey on May 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Eric Darton's "Divided We Stand" is a clear, honest,seductive and thought-provoking analysis of our times, and a model ofwriting that is rarely found on today's book shelves. It is a meticulous study that speaks volumes about contemporary affairs and the historical events that constituted a century of relentless urban renewal, from the real-estate fat-cats with their skycraping ambitions and the undemocratic politics that supported them, to the underdogs who suffer the inevitable consequences of profit at any cost. Mr.Darton uses the rise of New York's World Trade Center to illustrate a century of global development and industrialization that has sculpted and conditioned our way of life, wherever we may live. Injected with poetic phrasing, insight and a sensitive personal take that illustrates both the author's understanding of our times, and his love for the city where he lives.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Barnes on June 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
For those living in, around or even in the same civilization with it, "New York City" is so big, pervasisve and implacable as to be invisible. It has gone beyond a simple geographical location to take on the character of an environment, and its denizens are to New York what fish are to water. Darton performs an invaluable service in showing that the salient features of that environment are not the end result of impersonal processes, but the calculated consequences of decisions made by controlling claques determined to see that the city's development suited their own interests. Delivered with keen insight and wit, this book is a must read for anyone with a passing interest in the forces shaping the development of the modern American megalopolae.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Sandra D. Peters on September 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
From the perspective of someone who is not an American but have had the opportunity to visit New York on three or fout times over the years, the city never ceases to amaze me. I have travelled extensively to every major city in Canada and many in the U.S.A., but no city in North American captivates or intrigues me more than New York. There is something about the intermingling of lifestyles, culture, wealth and glitter that draws one to its core like a magnet. Manhattan is, indeed, a world of its own.
The pages of this book reveal not only an inside look at the World Trade Center but a history of Manhattan. While this may seem like basic common knowledge for Americans, it makes for exceptionally interesting reading to Canadians who have undoubtedly studied less American history that our neighbours to the south. The writing style, however, did seem slightly dry by times which is the reason the book lost a star in the rating. Do not let this discourage you from reading the book; it is informative and highly educational.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "nativenewyorker" on May 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book has truly blown my mind, it is so prophetic and daring, and was weitten while the trade towers were still standing. And before any but a handful of people cared enough about them to ask serious questions about how they came to be there and what they meant to and for us all.
This is an incredible book to have because it brings us as close to knowing these buildings as we will ever get.
The author saw the towers as troubled and vulnerable and dangerous. He saw through through their facades to see the humanity within. Angry as he at the powerful people who subverted a public agency to build a real estate development, above all his love of New York City shines through.
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