21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Very well done,
This review is from: Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center (Hardcover)
Daniel Okrent, public editor of the New York Times, has crafted a terrific history and love letter to New York through the microcosm of the tale of Rockefeller Center, one of the seminal landmarks of the city and one of those true stories that seem stranger than fiction.
I can only speak for myself but I imagine that it's hard for anyone who has lived in New York in a time when Rockefeller Center has always existed to appreciate the level of diplomacy, architecture, finance, and artwork that went into creating the complex, not to mention the somewhat scandalous occurrences, but Okrent captures it with a snappy prose style that also manages to blend in some fine observations and humorous analogies. Especially due to the continued presence of the Center, it is gratifying to be able to put into modern context the various descriptions and details and visualize them as they exist today.
The history of the Rockefellers, while obviously much broader and filled with much more intriguing information than is relevant here, is nonetheless captured more than adequately, particularly John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his second son Nelson. More than just the account of a building project, the book also marks the transition between old-time New York society of the Gilded Age and the modern New York of the twentieth century. The chapter regarding the controversial Diego Rivera mural seeks to set the record straight on a story that has taken on it's own life over the years and the characters who have previously been given short shrift finally get their due.
Perhaps it's fitting that the seminal word on the complex should come from the Gershwins - "They all laughed at Rockefeller Center, now they're fighting to get in." And we still are. Great book for fans of history, New York, architecture, or just plain good writing.
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Initial post: Jun 19, 2009 6:36:22 PM PDT
Scott S. Mckissock says:
Thanks, nicely written.
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