244 of 250 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge (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.) abound, while New York's most beautiful and efficient structure comes to life.
I've been as honest as possible. I recommend this book highly to anyone with an interest in engineering, New York history, or just a good story with great characters.
Instructor, College of New Rochelle
Tracked by 2 customers
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 26, 2010 10:05:27 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 26, 2010 10:07:03 AM PDT
Helen S. Grant says:
I have scant interest in large cities in general and New York in particular, but you have made me want to buy this book. I'm always ready for a good story about people--real people--who did things, either good or bad.
Posted on Jul 1, 2013 8:13:58 PM PDT
virgin grandma says:
i WOULD LIKE TO ORDER THIS BOOK
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2013 5:12:24 AM PDT
Rocco Dormarunno says:
You should! It's a great book--not a page-turner but fascinating.
Posted on Aug 31, 2013 5:54:15 PM PDT
I just ordered this book, have been wanting to read it ever since I saw the Author speak on Sunday morning news, would be very interested in reading your Books as well, I have dreamt of going to NY since I was five years old! My definite number one on my Bucket List, maybe some day I will have the money, until then I will live it through books. Reading is one of life's greatest joys, just after Dog's and Sleep. LOL
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 3, 2013 8:23:07 AM PDT
Rocco Dormarunno says:
I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. And I also hope that you can make it The Big Apple someday. New Yorkers aren't as nasty as people are led to believe. (Well, MOST of us aren't nasty.)
Posted on Dec 11, 2014 12:57:58 PM PST
Kristi Bancroft says:
A 9th grade student of mine wrote a review of this book and I realized from what he said that this book would be a perfect gift for my father. Thank you for your endorsement of the book which further proved that this is the book for Dad. My father started a bridge and dam construction business in Maine in the late 70's. He's retired now and my brother runs the business. Dad is also very hard to buy gifts for, so I am always looking for something that he would enjoy, but wouldn't buy for himself. Thank you for this recommendation!
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