Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy New
$16.34
Qty:1
  • List Price: $19.00
  • Save: $2.66 (14%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
Want it tomorrow, April 22? Order within and choose One-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more

Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City Paperback


See all 8 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from Collectible from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$16.34
$10.13 $3.24
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"
$0.90
Audible, Unabridged
"Please retry"

Frequently Bought Together

Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City + Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center
Price for both: $28.87

Buy the selected items together

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Big Spring Books
Editors' Picks in Spring Releases
Ready for some fresh reads? Browse our picks for Big Spring Books to please all kinds of readers.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (September 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767912683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767912686
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #265,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The 1920s "race" to build the world's tallest building has been extensively chronicled. A former literary agent and former St. Martin's editor, Bascomb centers his narrative on two architects, William Van Alen and Craig Severance, who schemed to outdo each other in the race to pierce New York City's skies with, respectively, the Manhattan Company Building at 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building on East 42nd Street-only to be beaten by a third team hired to construct the Empire State Building (at Fifth Avenue and 34th). While this story is most often told as a sentimental paean to "progress" rather than a bitter corporate feud, Bascomb gives his tale a fresh sense of capitalist drama in his evocation of the nascent worlds of skyscraper engineering, architecture and construction-and real estate speculation with returns projected at 10%. He imbues the former three with some terrific detail (including a 22-item list of how many trades, including mail chute installers and asbestos insulators, it took to build a skyscraper) that gives context to the players and incidental characters, including the five Starrett brothers (builders raised in Lawrence, Kans., who built 40 Wall Street), General Motors' financier John Jacob Raskob (the man behind the ESB), Walter Chrysler, New Yorker reviewer "T-Square," former governor Al Smith and many others. The occasionally intrusive cliches (the Starrett brothers "had building in their blood"), hyperbole (the '20s were "a decade gone mad") and familiar generalizations (the U.S. "finally came into its own" in that same decade) are excusable in a debut book, especially one chronicling an obsession with height and speed.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Though the desire to spike the landscape with ever-higher structures dates back millennia, skyscraper one-upmanship accelerated in the twentieth century. And while it continues today, never was the race so neck-and-neck as at the end of the Roaring Twenties in New York. Architect William Van Alen, commissioned by Walter Chrysler, found himself in direct competition with partner-turned-rival Craig Severance, architect for the Manhattan Company Building (now the Trump Building). Though the Chrysler was begun first, the Manhattan moved faster, and both groups soon were secretly revising plans--with construction underway. With its cloud-piercing spire, the Chrysler won the height race (although the Manhattan claimed the highest usable floor). The real winner was a late entrant: the Empire State Building. Bascomb's book is nicely rounded, exploring the finances and logistics of skyscraper building, from acquiring the land to riveting the steel; the benefits and drawbacks of height; and the personalities of the builders--all as he ratchets up the tension of the race. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

NEAL BASCOMB is the critically acclaimed author of The Perfect Mile, a New York Times bestseller, Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky, and Red Mutiny: Eleven Fateful Days on the Battleship Potemkin, which won the U.S. Maritime Literature Award in 2007. A former editor and journalist, he has appeared in documentaries on A&E and the History Channel.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
17
4 star
5
3 star
2
2 star
0
1 star
0
See all 24 customer reviews
One of the best things I've picked up in a long time.
readsalot2
The author does a great job describing the circumstances at the turn of the century that led men to believe they could build higher and higher.
A. Armstrong
It was also interesting to read this book today with all that is going on with the economy.
Victor M. Gimenez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By readsalot2 on October 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I came across this book over the weekend and picked it up for my dad's birthday. I started reading through it on the subway on the way home from the bookstore and could not put it down! I should admit that I don't normally read these kinds of books, but Bascomb does an amazing job of drawing you in with colorful descriptions of the times and characters involved in this truly incredible story of the skyscraper races during the 1920s. Yes, there was literally a race to be the tallest building in the world -- complete with a photo finish just in time for the stock market to crash! If you have any interest in New York, history, engineering, architecture, or just love a great story -- check it out. One of the best things I've picked up in a long time.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Loveitt on November 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
About a month ago I read "Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center" by Daniel Okrent. If you are like me and can't get enough of NYC history, Neal Bascomb's "Higher" makes a wonderful companion piece. The subject is similar (massive construction projects), as is the timeframe (1920's-1930's). Mr. Bascomb's book goes into detail concerning the construction of 3 skyscrapers - the Chrysler Building, the Manhattan Company Building, and the Empire State Building. Mr. Bascomb's book works on several levels: as a straight narrative detailing the complexities of putting up super-large buildings; as a collection of mini-biographies of people integral to the story -including Walter Chrysler, and the architects William Van Alen and Craig Severance (former partners who had had a falling out); and as a cultural/social history of NYC as the Roaring Twenties end and the Great Depression begins. The author drives home the point that form and function follow personality and willpower. The beauty of the Chrysler Building is that it is not just another skyscraper. It reflects the vision of William Van Alen (and Walter Chrysler, who took an active interest in the project - looking at hundreds, if not thousands, of Van Alen's drawings and giving his input). Similarly, a man by the name of John Jakob Raskob ( with ties to General Motors, interestingly enough), by sheer force of will, managed to get the financiers to pony-up the money to put-up the Empire State Building even though the Depression had hit. Another "big theme" is that ego can sometimes overcome cool and calculated financial considerations.Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Friedman on June 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Although it's focus is specifically on the construction of three major buildings of the New York skyline, Higher is deep down a very fond remembrance of a time when fortunes were literally falling and yet the city of New York grew exponentially toward becoming the epitome of the modern metropolis.
Neal Bascomb meticulously chronicles the events and characters who were responsible for this fertile period, but in doing so he very successfully manages to avoid bogging down in details and figures that might hinder a similarly-themed and more scholarly approach. This isn't to say that Bascomb didn't do his homework, but that he has been able to make a comprehensive narrative that's riveting (excuse the pun) and fast-paced. Indeed, the buildings themselves were all constructed with remarkable speed considering the scope of the projects and the technology of the day.
It was a great pleasure to not only follow along in what was a true rat race for the tallest building but to also gain significant insight into what is my personal favorite of the skyline, the Chrysler Building - a structure that has lived all but one year of it's life in the shadow of the Empire State.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As a NYC resident I love this city and its unique history, and this book is perfect for people like me. Bascomb makes 1929 come to life and the intriguing little-known tales he tells about the city's most famous buildings are terrific. I read it in just a couple of days, I was that into it. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes New York, is fascinated by skyscrapers, or just loves a ripping good yarn.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Klerks on January 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`Higher' is the story about the race for the `highest building in the world', set in New York City in the late 1920's and early 1930's. It portrays the race between the Chrysler Building and the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building (aka 40 Wall Street, current The Trump Building), and when that is settled and done the Empire State Building moves in to beat them all. The book focuses on the architects and their commissioners, who are often self made man not shy of showing their success (which is in fact an American success) powered by the economic boom at the time. The story shows that these kind of skyscrapers really are the product of ego driven characters and economic acceleration. But there really isn't anything wrong with that for as such they are just a symbol of achievement over a rational product of urbanism.

The book is full of quotes and it links the relations between the actors which give the book a lively edge, yet it reads as easily as a novel. There plenty of `gee, I didn't know that' facts and details in it, all adding up to the excitement of the story (for example, the famous Chrysler Building spire was topped out one day before the infamous Wall Street crash). By focussing on a few main characters and the topic of height, the book doesn't dwell in all directions which it could have done so easily for it really is a fascinating story to tell. I wouldn't be surprised if this story will be made into a movie or tv series one day for this story and the way it's being told really deserves that.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Product Images from Customers

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search
ARRAY(0xaaaa7890)