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The Pushcart War Paperback – 1965

4.7 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Company (1965)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000VAVMLK
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 9.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,099,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When I decided to read all the great children's books written in the English language (this project isn't going as quickly as I had hoped it would) I made a list. While writing it, something in the back of my mind reminded me that when I was a kid a book often mentioned was the 1964 title, "The Pushcart War". I had never read it when I was younger, but I had clear memories of people discussing it with vim and vigor. Seeking it out, I decided to read it for my very self. What I discovered was that this book has been unmercifully forgotten. Here we have one of the greatest parables of the 20th century and how many kids today have read it? How many kids will read it in the next 30 years? Ladies and gentlemen, if you know a child, any child, that has the ability to read you must make it your American duty to seek out a copy of this book, purchase it, and thrust it into the hands of your young acquaintance. This is one of the best books I have ever read.

Now I'm glad I read a 1964 edition of this book because it gets a little confusing at the beginning. The book begins with a Foreword by Professor Lyman Cumberly of New York University (author of "The Large Object Theory of History"). This Forward, dated 1986, reflects on the events of the New York Pushcart War and offers some insight. Here I am, 26 years of age, and I honestly thought that this was a real professor writing a real preface. Then I saw the copyright date and I figured it out. This was a fictional professor writing some 20 years in the "future" when the town was able to sort out the events as they occurred. Still, the book is written in a somewhat original and scholarly fashion.
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Format: Paperback
I read THE PUSHCART WAR as part of a reading program when I was in fifth grade, and of all the books I read that year, this is the one of only two that stuck with me.
In the late eighties I found the book back in print, and I snatched the copy off the shelf to read to my then-seven year-old son. When I did, I made a wonderful discovery... that THE PUSHCART WAR was even more fun to read as an adult... so much so that this book would have an impact on my own writing.
THE PUSHCART WAR is not just for kids. I am in my forties now, and I still find myself going back to re-read this one. I have read it to both of my children and they love it, too. And I hope they're eavesdropping when I read it to their children -- and discover the whole subtle world of adult satire that this delightful book conceals.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book because I'm a big fan of Merrill's book THE TOOTHPASTE MILLIONAIRE (ISBN 0395960630) and I wanted to see some of the others she'd written.

The book is set in crowded 1960s New York City where a turf war of sorts is evolving between taxis, cars, trucks, and street vendors. A fight for a parking space between one of the huge truck's drivers (Merrill names him "Mack" in a clever injoke) and "Morris the Florist", a pushcart peddler, ends in an accident that launches a witty all-out battle for street supremacy. The writing is fast paced, clever, and doesn't "talk down" to its intended audience of children. (I'd think grades 4 through 7 are the most likely targeted group.)

*** Some minor spoilers ahead ***

The tale on the surface is clever enough, but this book is multi-layered. Predominantly, it's an allegory for war in general, though I'd not single out any specific skirmish.

I see allusions to the Revolutionary War's Boston Tea Party and Stamp Act. When children who've joined the cause shoot tacks at trucks to flatten their tires, the city's mayor, in collusion with the trucking firms, levies a sizable tax on tacks in the hopes kids won't be able to afford them.

As far as World War 2 Naziism, the truckers' evil Master Plan would first get rid of pushcarts, then motorcycles, working their way up to taxis and cars so that they can move about on the roads more freely reasoning that the bigger vehicles move more commerce and should get more space. Later on we learn that smaller TRUCKS are also targeted by the "Big Three" behind the plan, an obvious reference to the famous quote about "When they came for the Poles, I didn't speak out because I was not Polish. Then when they came for me, there was no one to speak out for me..
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Format: Paperback
I first read THE PUSHCART WAR as a politically-aware sixth grader in 1971 at the nadir of America's involvement in Southeast Asia. As an indictment of, and a primer on, the causes of war, THE PUSHCART WAR is unparalleled. This little-known book should be on everyone's bookshelf, next to THE ENORMOUS EGG, another children's classic on American democracy. THE PUSHCART WAR is written as an actual history, from a vantage point ten years in the future.

THE PUSHCART WAR takes place in a New York City choked with traffic and secretly controlled by powerful business interests (the truck line owners Big Moe Mammoth, Louie Livergreen, and Walter "The Tiger" Sweet) that have co-opted the political machine of Mayor Emmett P. Cudd. "The Three" are determined to see their trucking businesses entirely dominate the city. To that end, they create a Master Plan to eliminate all other competition for the New York streets, first pushcarts, then cars, taxis and buses, and finally even small trucks.

The war begins with The Daffodil Massacre, as Morris The Florist's pushcart is destroyed and the hapless Morris finds himself upside down inside a pickle barrel. It does not take long for the pushcart owners to realize they are being targeted. They soon organize, fighting back with peashooters against the marauding trucks. Along the way, the pushcart warriors (almost all New Americans with names like Peretz, Moroney, Jerusalem, Carlos, and Hammerman) are aided by a high-profile celebrity (the movie star Wanda Gambling), a political aspirant (Mayoral candidate Archie Love), a disaffected trucker (Joey Kafflis), a Police Commissioner quietly engaging in Civil Disobedience against his own leaders, and finally the general public, who engage in a massive letter-writing campaign that topples The Three.
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