Gay Talese is known for his daring pursuit of "unreportable" stories, for his exhaustive research, and for his formally elegant style. These qualities, arguably, are the touchstones of the finest literary journalism. Talese is often cited as one of the founders of the 1960s "New Journalism," but he has always politely demurred from this label, insisting that his "stories with real names" represent no reformist crusade, but rather his own highly personal response to the world as an Italian-American "outsider."
This is a great title to read if you are interested in Gay Telese. However, be wary of the kindle edition that Amazon is selling here. It is so loaded with typos that the end of chapter 7 can be unreadable. I found myself having to infer the words the author had originally written. The fact that Amazon is charging $10 for this quality is a total rip off. Do yourself a favor and buy a used paper copy of the book for far cheaper so you can read it as the author intended. Support any used/local book seller over Amazon.
My Uncle was a "boomer." I never understood that much of his life when I was a kid growing up. He would roll into town in his big car with all of his clothing hanging from a rod across the back seat. He was a big man and a drinker and a whiz at poker, pool, and any game of chance. I never understood my Uncle then. He respected his older sister, my Mother, and was always at odds with my Father. He had part of his wages sent to my Mother to hold for him so he wouldn't spend it all. After reading "The Bridge" I understand my Uncle a little better.
While it is a story of the bridge, it is more a story of the people that created the bridge - from those that planned it, designed it, gave up their homes for it, those that built it, and those that maintain it.
It is one of the finest books that I have read - a treasure from start to finish.
In "The Bridge", Gay Talese tells the story of the men behind the scenes, the men who do the dirty work in bridge-building (as well as other city building projects) without the recognition, the speeches, or the parades. Talese centers the story around the construction of the Verrazano Bridge in New York, one of the world's largest and most impressive pieces of architecture built by some of the world's bravest and least heralded men.
You can tell that Talese spent a great deal of time with these men, their families, and the people most affected by the Verrazano's construction in the 1960's -- the residents of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Most of the book is a collection of anecdotes focusing on the life of a "boomer", in which bridgebuilding and ironworking is seemingly passed down from generation to generation; the outrage in Brooklyn over the condemnation of hundreds of homes and businesses, who these Brooklynites were and where they went; the Indians who drove home to the Canadian border on weekends to see their families before leaving Sunday night to drive back down to the job; and so on.
Talese sheds a sufficient amount of light on the actual bridge construction, as well as some history and the famous designer, Othmar Ammann. He conveys perfectly the emotional ties people have to the bridge (both positive and negative), the almost magnetic pull the work has to those men who have building in their blood, and the "fever" they experience when the job is done. You'll never have heard of these men before, because they're gone to the next job by the time the final touches are put on, and only the politcians and designers find their names in print or smile for the cameras. It's a story of human emotion and accomplishment, and of a very proud fraternity of men, that Talese tells skillfully.
Fantastic book, written by one of the best writers. I literally read it through without stopping.
So why only four stars? Not because of the content or the style. Nope. Because of the sloppiness of the conversion to Kindle format. Plainly this is a book that was put through a scanner to turn it electronic, and there are places where not much care was taken to be sure that the results were accurate. Most notable is Chapter 7 -- so full of mispellings that I had to intuit what the masterfully clear Talese was trying to say.
Is it too much to ask that a book in Kindle format be proof-read before it is published? Or is that something that is disappearing with ebooks?
This story as told By Gay Talese is riveting from beginning to end. It is a great tribute to the Men who built the Varrazano Narrows Bridge.New Jersey residents can also be proud because the Brooklyn Tower was built right down here in South Plainfield At Harris Structural Steel and delivered by barge in sections to the brooklyn anchorage. I do feel sorry for those displaced by the building of the bridge but i suppose this was the price that we had to pay for progress. Progress never comes without pain and sacrifice. I would reccommend this book to everyone and especially those of us in the engineering field and those historians out there that want a wide variety of perspectives. I will never be the same after reading this book,nor will my view of the Varrazano Narrows bridge ever look the same.Somehow it will have more grandier,gallantry and hope for the future! Thomas R [...] professional composer
Crawford is right; fabulous read by Talese but manuscript typographical errors actually make reader stop and try to figure out the point. Ridiculous even at $2.99 when so simple to check for errors these days. I'm surprised at the lack of quality.
Talese's pursuit of the back story is never more apparent than in THE BRIDGE. His interviewing doggedness allows him to recreate with incredible detail and narrative flow the ins and outs of the workers who created the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. A real talent. Always worth reading, particularly when he latches on to a great story.