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New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009 (Modern Library) Hardcover – January 3, 2012

4 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

 
 "The most convivial and unorthodox history of New York City one is likely to come across... There are so many fine moments in ‘New York Diaries: 1609-2009’ that it’s impossible to list them all.” --Dwight Garner, New York Times

"Hilarious as it is heartbreaking, New York Diaries is a must read for anyone who has fallen in love with the Big Apple."--Darren Richard Carlaw, The New York Journal of Books
 
“I think the most fun way to read New York Diaries would be to keep it by your bedside. . . the effect, oftentimes, is of a chorus of voices, separated by decades, even centuries, unconsciously echoing the same sentiments and complaints.” –Maureen Corrigan, NPR Books
 

"As comprehensive as it is revealing, making the city come alive in its glamour and grime."--Susannah Cahalan, New York Post

"One of the eminently readable, and easily approachable, tomes on Big Apple history, one that will enchant and satisfy with its depth of detail and breadth of range."--
DigitalJournal.com

"[A] remarkable feat of an anthology."--
BrainPickings.com

About the Author

Teresa Carpenter is the author of four books, including the New York Times bestseller Missing Beauty. She is a former senior editor of The Village Voice, where her feature articles on crime and the law won a Pulitzer Prize in 1981. She lives in New York City’s Greenwich Village with her husband, writer Steven Levy, and their son.
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library
  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067964332X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679643326
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #802,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
My copy belonged to my mother, but I started reading it while at her house, and borrowed it. Each day has several diary entries made by different people over the course of 400 years, so you develop favorite writers (sometimes famous, sometimes not) and learn about NYC at different times. Every time I read from it, something one of the diarists wrote will spark my interest (five points slums, doctor escaping from war prison during the revolutionary war, turn-of-the-century socialism, etc.), and I'll go research it. It's been endlessly entertaining and educational, and I look forward to reading more of it.
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Format: Hardcover
I still can't believe this book never existed before. It is the most perfect idea. First, I have to out myself as one of the people who helped fact-check the entries. But I would have loved this book regardless. Like every good diary it gives wonderful, intimate snapshots of everything from small personal moments (kissing in a darkened theatre) to world events (war and 9/11). Except in New York Diaries you are getting the best of four centuries worth of diarists (God I envy Teresa Carpenter's time researching this book).

I'll be forever haunted by this one story that emerged in the diary of a pre-NYPD police inspector named William Bell. In accordance with the evil Fugitive Slave Act, which had only recently passed, Bell helped return Henry Long back to his "owner" in Virginia. A large group had gathered to prevent it, but Bell and 200 policemen did their terrible job and Long was put back into slavery.

The book is laid out according to the calendar year, but spanning 1609 to 2009. So for any day of the year you might see entries from 1871 or 1935, and so on. William Bell's entry for instance, from January 8, 1851, is surrounded by entries made by people like George Washington. The next day has an entry from ballet dancer Toni Bentley. What ends up happening is: every day you read gives a visceral sense of the sweep of time. Some things change, some things don't, it's like this forever undulating wave of experience and you can jump in on any day.

Big history, little history, it's all wonderfully mixed up together. This book is a treasure.
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Format: Hardcover
In the course of working on this book (I was one of the team of dedicated editors), I've had the opportunity to read it many times, and as with any work of art, each time I read it I find something new and fascinating, funny or heartbreaking. An artist (John Sloan) watches from his studio window while, across the alley, a baby dies in its mother's arms; a Holocaust survivor (Jonas Mekas) works a job that makes his fingers bleed, but still finds the energy to notice the beauty of girls on a summer night; an actress (Judith Malina) decides to seduce a writer and succeeds handily; Andy Warhol keeps manic track of every nickel he spends. People known and unknown whisper gossip into our ears--about Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn, Richard Nixon--and give voice to complaints that are still on our minds today: the corruption of Wall Street, the lack of jobs. With these diarists we attend parties, weddings, theaters, restaurants, battles, and deathbeds, and we are privy to their inmost thoughts and worries. Each entry adds a detail to the life of the city (and in the city), and by extension, the nation, over the past 400 years.

Read it day-by-day, or open it at random, and be surprised, moved, amazed, delighted by the generosity of the writers in their honesty and by the meticulous research and selections of the editor, Teresa Carpenter. The peek into the private diaries of people going about their lives is bewitching and illuminating. You will not be able to put it down.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone who has lived in New York, loved in New York, passed through New York, or just longed for a glimpse of this city of dreams, needs to own Teresa Carpenter's brilliantly conceived and executed New York Diaries.

It took someone as gifted as Carpenter to figure out how to portray New York City and all that it has stood for over the past 400 years.

As soon as I cracked open the book, like many others, I'm sure, I wanted to know what the diarists were saying on my birthday. On that day in 1949, John Cheever took his daughter Susie to a party on Fifth Avenue ("In the brume the long double track of street lamps seems yellow.") Then Christmas: In 1986, Andy Warhol "...went to the Church of the Heavenly Rest to pass out Interviews and feed the poor...Got a lot of calls to go to Christmas parties but I just decided to stay in and I loved it."

Then, when I heard a review of the book on NPR, I decided to take the reviewer up on her suggestion of reading an entry of the book every night before going to bed. Now I keep the book by my bed and that's exactly what I do. Come December 31, I'll miss my routine terribly.

But there are many many ways to absorb this glorious collection of carefully culled diary entries. Go at it straight on and straight through, or pick and choose as you like. Whichever way you decide to absorb this fascinating book, you won't be sorry.
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Format: Hardcover
I cannot add anything more to the other five star reviews that have already been posted here so I won't. But I just received my copy of this book this afternoon and started reading it three hours ago. I cannot put it down. It's an amazing slice of history and kudos to the author for putting it in "convenient book form" for the rest of us. Highly recommended!
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