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The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge [Kindle Edition]

David McCullough
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (303 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $20.00
Kindle Price: $12.38
You Save: $7.62 (38%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

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Book Description

The dramatic and enthralling story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge at the time, a tale of greed, corruption, and obstruction but also of optimism, heroism, and determination, told by master historian David McCullough.

This monumental book is the enthralling story of one of the greatest events in our nation’s history, during the Age of Optimism—a period when Americans were convinced in their hearts that all things were possible.

In the years around 1870, when the project was first undertaken, the concept of building an unprecedented bridge to span the East River between the great cities of Manhattan and Brooklyn required a vision and determination comparable to that which went into the building of the great cathedrals. Throughout the fourteen years of its construction, the odds against the successful completion of the bridge seemed staggering. Bodies were crushed and broken, lives lost, political empires fell, and surges of public emotion constantly threatened the project. But this is not merely the saga of an engineering miracle; it is a sweeping narrative of the social climate of the time and of the heroes and rascals who had a hand in either constructing or exploiting the surpassing enterprise.

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the 19th century, the Brooklyn Bridge was viewed as the greatest engineering feat of mankind. The Roeblings--father and son--toiled for decades, fighting competitors, corrupt politicians, and the laws of nature to fabricate a bridge which, after 100 years, still provides one of the major avenues of access to one of the world's busiest cities--as compared to many bridges built at the same time which collapsed within decades or even years. It is refreshing to read such a magnificent story of real architecture and engineering in an era where these words refer to tiny bits and bytes that inspire awe only in their abstract consequences, and not in their tangible physical magnificence.

From Publishers Weekly

This outstanding audio adaptation brings to life the Herculean struggles behind the creation of one of this country's most recognizable and enduring landmarks. Herrmann's rich, expressive voice perfectly complements McCullough's stately language, and the combination of their talents—coupled with the impressiveness of the engineering marvel that is the Brooklyn Bridge—makes this a compulsive listen. Subtle changes in Herrmann's tone clearly set off quotations without interrupting the flow, and though this audiobook is abridged, the deleted segments are briefly summarized by an unobtrusive second narrator so that listeners never feel as if they're missing part of the story. While there are some descriptions of the 13-year construction process that would have benefited from illustrations, the production as a whole is superb. Listeners cannot help being moved by the grandeur of the structure and by the spectacular risks taken by the men who worked on it, particularly chief engineer Washington Roebling, who remained the driving force behind the bridge despite being crippled by the bends and bedridden for many years. Drama of every kind can be found here: political scandals, intense rivalries, extreme loyalty, a charming love story, heroism, spectacular near-disasters, death, illness and war. Once called the eighth wonder of the world, the Brooklyn Bridge still inspires artists and photographers, tourists and natives alike, and it is the only stone-towered, steel-cabled bridge in the world. In this excellent production, listeners will be inspired anew.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
205 of 209 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Bridge September 26, 2003
Format:Paperback
It is hard for me to be objective about this book. First off, I am a great admirer of David McCullough's histories. Second, I have published two novels which are set in New York during the mid-19th Century. But what probably makes it hardest for me to be objective is that I have walked over that bridge for my own personal pleasure so many times over the decades that I consider it an old friend. It's my bridge.
Having said all that, I can say that Mr. McCullough has written a history that is not only about a bridge and its builders, which are fascinating subjects in their own right, but it is also about what New Yorkers were thinking back then. This was still a horizontal world; the era of early skyscrapers was a few decades away. Because of this and the rapid growth in population after the Civil War, Manhattan was mostrously choked by block after block of four- and five-story tenements, warehouses and factories. The need for a reliable means to get to the vast open spaces of Brooklyn was urgent. Ironically, however, it wasn't the horizontal--the length of the bridge--which stunned the witnesses to the construction. Instead they marvelled at the height of the towers and the height of the roadway over the East River.
Not as ironic, however, were the people who didn't marvel at the bridge's beauty and the strength of its construction. They were too busy licking their lips, wringing their hands and wondering how much of the bridge's budget would make its way into their wallets. The elements of corruption, then as now, always lurked near a great public work in New York. McCullough covers this tainted side just as carefully as he reports on the glory of the growth of the bridge. Heroes (the Roeblings) and villains (Tweed & Co.
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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful tribute to visionaries. May 11, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Although finished over a hundred years ago, Mr. McCullough reminds us not to take the Brooklyn Bridge for granted. By interweaving hundreds of key participants and placing the events in the context of their times, Mr. McCullough reveals how hard it was to build, but how a determined few persevered. In fact, with all of the political opposition and in-fighting, it's a miracle that it did get finished during the height of the "Gilded Age." Mr. McCullough accomplishes one of the historian's hardest tasks by explaining why something we take for granted should be important to us living a century later; in other words he puts the struggle for the bridge in its proper backdrop with all of the colorful charactors who either contributed to or tried to prevent the bridge's construction. I have never been to the Brooklyn Bridge, but after reading this book, I plan on seeing it soon. Although the Bridge's story is unique to its turbulent time, it does transcend that context by celebrating the will and genius of men and women who know they are right. The story is universal in its testimony to the importance of following your beliefs. Washington Roebling and his wife Emily stand as true heroes who are still making a difference. Mr. McCullough is one of our best historians, as this book so ably proves. Highly recommended.
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61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining history August 19, 2000
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While reading this I went to visit the Brooklyn Bridge again and I saw things I'd never noticed before. Isn't that why we read? A great book with lot's of fascinating details about the technical challenges and the determination of the Roeblings to see it through. I'll never cross another suspension bridge without thinking of this story. Highly recommended.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
My grandfather spent his whole life in Brooklyn and he loved the place. His apartment walls were lined with etchings of the city's buildings and landmarks by the now largely forgotten artist Joseph Pennell. Several times he took us to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, which we often drove over when we went to visit them from New Jersey. So I, like David McCullough, and Ken Burns who made a nice film about it, and many New Yorkers, have always loved the Bridge. In a city which long ago came to be dominated by modernistic skyscrapers, the Bridge is such an obvious throwback, with its stonework, web of steel cables, and gothic arches, it just looks like it has a tale to tell.
In this outstanding book, McCullough tells that tale--of how the bridge came to be built (from 1869 to 1883) and of the extraordinary difficulties, both man-made and natural, that had to be overcome. The story starts with the post-Civil War social milieu that gave rise to the project and the recognition on the part of the powers that be in Brooklyn that they had to be physically joined to Manhattan to keep pace in the emerging industrial world. The design for the project and the initial phases of building are largely the product of one unusual man, John Rebelling. In particular, the structure, much longer than any prior suspension bridge and required to bear significantly greater weight, was made possible by the steel cabling which Roebling himself had perfected. By contrast, the greatest challenges he faced mostly stemmed from corruption; recall that this was Tammany Hall era New York.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative
As usual, Mr. McCullough takes a subject which could be difficult to comprehend or even boring and makes it wonderfully interesting and informative.
Published 7 days ago by Lynette J. Roby
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best book I've ever read
As is typical of David McCullough, this book is fascinating to read. It brilliantly explains the engineering feats required but even more impressive was overcoming the corrupt... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Charles McIntosh
5.0 out of 5 stars A chronicle of the late 1800's in American engineering
How an engineer could face the bends and corruption and still be as creative in finding intricate engineering solutions over a fourteen year period is amazing. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Jeffrey W. Birk
5.0 out of 5 stars The Eighth Wonder of the World
I actually liked this book a lot. This surprised me because I am not an "architect" type person. My grandfather worked for the Roebling family in Trenton as a "house carpenter"... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Lisa Brady
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating history
The construction or the Brooklyn Bridge is a monumental engineering achievement. The design and construction history is amazing and reads like a novel. Read more
Published 23 days ago by R. M. Mullen
5.0 out of 5 stars Rising out of Brooklyn
Another winner from David McCullough! I love the way he delves deeply into a subject but writes in an informative yet conversational way. Read more
Published 29 days ago by btwhite22
5.0 out of 5 stars ANYTHING MCCULLOUGH WRITES!
NOT ONLY DO I COLLECT DAVID'S BOOKS, I READ THEM. I JUST WISH HE HAD BEEN MY HISTORY TEACHER BECAUSE HE MAKES EVERYTHING COME TO LIFE IN A MOST VIVID WAY!
Published 1 month ago by Vicki F. Bauer
5.0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Story about One of the Most Important Bridges in America
No one can write a non-fiction story like David McCullough! At first, I thought he started a little too far back; however, the reasoning became obvious before long. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. Jares
5.0 out of 5 stars McCullough does it again
Another marvelously told story in David McCullough's inimitable style. The wonderful use of personal stories and perspectives add tremendous depth to an already amazing description... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Erick
5.0 out of 5 stars Every engineer or construction tradesman should read this
McCullough can do no wrong, ever! This book clearly explains all of the facets and anguish the occurs from start to finish in constructing a bridge. It is not an easy feat. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Cynthia Fay Golding
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More About the Author

David McCullough has twice received the Pulitzer Prize, for Truman and John Adams, and twice received the National Book Award, for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback; His other widely praised books are 1776, Brave Companions, The Great Bridge, and The Johnstown Flood. He has been honored with the National Book Foundation Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award, the National Humanities Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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