24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2000
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.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2001
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.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2002
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.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2000
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.
30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2000
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.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2001
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.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2002
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.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2000
I read this book after a visit to the WTC. Very enjoyable. The author really understands the history and complexities of the WTC and lower Manhattan. You can tell he has a real love for the story. That deep level of interest comes through on every page. I thought the book could be helped by more photos and maps to help the reader understand and "see" the old neighborhood and what has taken its place. Also, the author skips around a lot-maybe a little more organization would be helpful. In total, though, an enjoyable read.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2003
Part history lesson, part autobiography (in the second person, no less!), part architectural study, part urban planning critique... No wonder my thoughts about this book are fragmented and ambivalent. I wish the book had been written in a few separate complete sections, something like Part One--The History of New York Real Estate, Part Two--The Forces Behind the WTC's Creation, Part Three--The Rockefellers, Part Four--The Builders... You get the idea. Instead, the book, while it does offer several fascinating and provocative sections, they're spread out among so many other topics and diversions, that I lost my patience several times and had to put the book away for days at a time. The only section that was complete was the most effective, and that was the discussion about the now-lost Radio Row and the neighborhood around it. I would recommend the book just for that section, and for its studies of August Tobin and the Rockefeller clan. But I couldn't in good conscience give it a higher rating than the one I gave it. I was that divided.
Rocco Dormarunno, author of The Five Points
22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2001
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Yeah, so, it's no longer cool to be so aloof, but i always hated the twin towers, and this book helped me to think about why. I know, I know, USA, USA, symbol of democracy, but not really -- the WTC was a blight on downtown, ugly, suburban Curbousian in a city of tightly-defined blocks, and they were worse inside than out. I worked in building 7 for 3 years and, even as the newest of the bunch, it was a (...), unkempt, lifeless and boring space. Plus, there was an effing Sbarro in the mall, an affront to everything that is great about our city.
That said, Eric Darton hates the WTC even more than i do. Did. Whatever. His book is a tightly written, often lyrical discourse on the unique confluence of political and economic factors that made the two towers and their ugly squat bretheren a possibility. He's harsh, as one critic mentions, but to call this a left-wing critique is to miss the point -- it's a critique by a new yorker who saw 1960s real-estate-speculation disguised as "urban renewal" fall flat on its face. It's a colorful recounting of the battle to get the thing built, an interesting discussion of what was destroyed to build it, and as much as the author hates the buildings, there's even a sense of romanticism, hard to avoid given the sheer scale of the project.
This is not a book about engineering or architecture, except inasmuch as these topics relate to thigns like urban planning. Don't expect to hear much about I-beams. But if you like to know how things come to be on a less microscopic scale, and if you'd like to read a book that i think captures that particularly New-York paradox of being a city with a gigantic history and the city of progress, this is a great book, well written, and full of great historical info.