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Twin Towers: The Life of New York City's World Trade Center Hardcover – November 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Among the most widely recognized of human-made structures, New York City's World Trade Center is both beloved for its photogenic skyline presence and vilified for symbolizing bloated bureaucracy and heartless modernism. These two books comprise initial attempts to flesh out the WTC's history, appraise its place in 20th-century architecture, and judge its success as urban design and economic planning. Neither author is an authority on architecture, city planning, politics, or economics, and both treat the WTC itself as a backdrop to the political maneuvering that made its creation possible. Gillespie (American studies, Rutgers) pens an absorbing account incorporating personal interviews and observations, exuding enthusiasm and empathy. In striking contrast, Darton's (cultural studies, Hunter Coll.) study brims with irony, invective, and irrelevant digressions. Where Gillespie sees the New York Port Authority, the WTC's parent, as a powerful agency struggling to fulfill its mandate to facilitate transport and commerce, Darton sees the undiluted evil of unaccountable government officials in pursuit of ignoble ends. The same events are given diametrically opposed interpretations, and a few facts appear to be in dispute. Gillespie examines the tower's planning and construction in far more depth, but both he and Darton take the same superficial approach as Tom Wolfe in From Bauhaus to Our House. For now, architecture librarians will remain better served by Anthony Robin's The World Trade Center (1987). Large urban planning collections, however, may want to add both Twin Towers and Divided We Stand as a lesson in contrasting interpretation.
-David Solt?sz, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Twin Towers is a richly textured study of an important American icon that symbolizes the intertwining of capitalism and government entrepreneurship in the United States. A nicely crafted study, certain to be of interest to students of American politics and culture, and to engineers and architects." -- Jameson W. Doig, Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, Princeton University

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press; English Language edition (November 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813527422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813527420
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,725,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A NJ Reader on October 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I thought this book would have had more pictures of the construction of the towers and also some pictures of the finished towers. I wanted it as a keepsake since the Towers are now gone. however there are no pictures and only about 7 illustrations. (cross-sectional diagram, map of layout, etc)
It does contain an interesting background to the building of the Towers that is quite an interesting read.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Eric C. Welch on October 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book was written in 1999 as pressure was mounting for the Port Authority to turn the WTC over to a private agency. The book was reissued shortly after September 11 as the only scholarly history of the WTC. It's a fascinating study of political pressures and engineering feats.
It's impossible to discuss the World Trade Center Towers without first understanding the New York/New Jersey Port Authority. Conceptually, it was unique when it was created in 1921. Authorities - quasi-governmental agencies that were authorized to build projects and then levy user fees to pay for them - had a long and well-established history in England. What made this new authority unique in 1921, when it was created to build the Holland Tunnel, was that it was granted a charter to build facilities, i.e., multiple projects.
The idea for the WTC was conceived during a period of relentless optimism [Kenney] but "completed during a period of national gloom and retreat [Vietnam, 1970's, and Nixon's collapse.]" There were political aspects, aside from the desire to build the world's tallest building, and there was always the pressure from New Jersey to reduce bridge and tunnel tolls. A new project that would use these surplus funds would help to relieve that pressure. It was a project that was lauded by the critics at first, then reviled, only to be resurrected in the minds of New Yorkers, but never as an architectural triumph. It had the misfortune to fall between two architectural periods: International Style, with massive amounts of glass, and Postmodern, which represented a return to the more colorful and decorative building facades. Its Japanese architect, Minoru Yamasaki, used unique aluminum curtain walls that had been dyed to reflect light in unusual ways.
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54 of 65 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As the Statue of Liberty is known around the world as the symbol of America and freedom, the Twin Towers are recognized around the world as the symbol of America and power. Angus Gillespie's "Twin Towers" sneaks the reader past security to see what it really took to create these modern day monuments to human greatness. The book also lets the reader peer through the eyes of the myriad of different people who work in the building, maintain the building, and even those who try to destroy the building. Simply fascinating!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael D. Gibson on October 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a serious history of the conception and creation of not only the building, but the idea behind the building, the politics behind it, and the actual intellectual processes involved.
A very enganging read. Probably does not bode well for a rebuilding of the towers however, as many thought the buildings should not have been built in the first place.
The chapter on the actual working of the building was far too short for me, perhaps the author will go back to his notes, which he states are extensive, and give us a posthumous account of all the great stories people told about the building (of which only two or three are included).
Don't buy the book if you're looking for pictures, just a few diagrams and such are included.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By F. Orion Pozo on January 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book after the attacks of September 11th to find out more about the buildings that I had often seen in the distance, but had never known much about. I had never been in the World Trade Center, never visited the observation deck, nor eaten at Windows on the World. I found this book very helpful in providing much information about who built it, and how. It also gives a good perspective on what it was like to work in the building.
And it is with that perspective that I recommend this book to others. Not anticipating the sudden and tragic demise of the towers when it was written 1n 1999, the book celebrates the life of the World Trade Center. The last part focuses on the day-to-day lives of the people of the towers and can be especially hard to read after the staggering loss of life on the day the buildings collapsed. I don't think I could read this book right now if the towers were a part of my life before that tragic day. So for the many people for whom the World Trade Center before September 11th was just a recognizable part of the New York skyline, and are interested in learning more about it now that it has so suddenly and completely been destroyed, this is a good book to read. For those whose lives were tied to the buildings in some way, this book may be too close, like a letter from a battlefield soldier that arrives after his or her death.
The book starts out with the background of the organization that planned and built the World Trade Center, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. This is a fascinating story in itself about the growth of a small interstate agency that started its life connecting New York and New Jersey with bridges and tunnels and went on to build the tallest and largest buildings in the area.
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