From Publishers Weekly
executive editor Mauro tries to underscore the irony of the 1939–1940 New York World's Fair, with its theme of world unity, opening on the brink of world war. But Mauro has multiple narratives, moving erratically between the evolution of the fair, with its slogan Building the World of Tomorrow; war brewing in Europe; and Germany gobbling up territory (Hitler refused the invitation to have a pavilion at the fair). As, one by one, European nations closed their pavilions, due to the war, the fair's theme rang increasingly hollow. During the fair's run, Einstein famously wrote to President Roosevelt expressing concern over Germany's stockpiling of uranium, giving rise to the Manhattan Project. To this unwieldy narrative Mauro adds the story of two NYPD bomb squad detectives killed when a bomb detonated on the fairgrounds on July 4, 1940. Aiming for another Devil in the White City
, Mauro fails to pull all his threads together coherently, falling short of the mark. Photos. (July)
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The subtitle of this in-depth examination of the 1939–40 World’s Fair in New York is somewhat misleading as it suggests too much similarity to to Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City, in which Daniel Burnham’s architectural plans for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago were juxtaposed with the murderous plots carried out by Dr. H. H. Holmes. What happened in Flushing Meadows, New York, is still tragic but tame by contrast: a Fourth of July bombing that resulted in the deaths of two NYPD detectives. Still, Maro’s intensively researched history of what led up to the fair and the fair itself provides a revealing window onto the Depression and prewar America in general. The text includes a intriguing cameo by Albert Einstein, who was a visitor at the fair. Absorbing history but hardly a match for The Devil in the White City. --Connie Fletcher