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City in the Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center Hardcover – November 12, 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is not a book only about September 11; the towers' collapse begins on number 236 of 337 pages of narrative text. New York Times reporters Glanz (science) and Lipton (metropolitan news) instead deliver a thoroughly absorbing account of how the World Trade Center developed from an embryonic 1939 World's Fair building to "a city in the sky, the likes of which the planet had never seen." In this lively page-turner, intensively researched and meticulously documented, a world of international trade, business history, litigation, architecture, engineering and forensics comes clear-a political and financial melodrama with more wheeling and dealing than Dallas, touched lightly with the comedic and haunted by tragedy. The authors move a Robert Altman-sized cast (engineers, architects, iron workers, builders, demolitionists, lawyers, mobsters, mayors, mathematicians, critics, activists, real estate dealers, biochemists, union organizers, an aerialist, an arsonist) through the design, construction, destruction and memorializing. Faceless entities like the Port Authority acquire names, personal histories and diverse agendas. Bureaucratic reports and public hearings, reduced with clarity and balance, become comprehensible, even readable. The authors are remarkably skilled at telling all without telling too much: a "deadening" 44-page speech by Port Authority official Austin Tobin gets short shrift but a fair account. Their descriptions of new technologies (e.g., "artificial creakiness"), fresh experiments (particularly in wind engineering), complicated financial maneuverings and secret studies become clear to the non-specialist reader. While some superlatives might have been avoided ("the biggest and brashest icons that New York ever produced," etc.), Glanz and Lipton tell this compelling story without becoming overwrought, and with graphs and charts (and 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW) that contribute immensely to understanding the logistical and technical aspects of the project. This book may be the definitive popular account of the towers.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* New York Times reporters Glanz (science) and Lipton (metropolitan news) briskly and lucidly tell the entire wrenching story of the genesis and destruction of the World Trade Center, once a testament to capitalistic ambition and technical innovation, now a monument to hubris, apocalyptic hate, and the suffering of innocents. The authors begin with engrossing profiles of the men who dreamed up the World Trade Center 40 years ago, most notably David Rockefeller, the Port Authority's feisty Guy Tozzoli, and Japanese American architect Minoru Yamasaki, who was afraid of heights and had never built a skyscraper before. Drawing on fresh and extensive research, Glanz and Lipton chart the contentious and irresponsible design process in which untested structural technologies were deemed safe over the objections of a prescient few who worried about fire and airplane collisions. The authors' highly detailed yet always human and dramatic chronicling of the towers' unprecedented construction, as well as unique insights into how the controversial twin towers finally won the affection of skeptical New Yorkers only to come under siege--first by an arsonist-janitor, then by terrorist bombers in 1993, and, finally, by those who brought them down on that unforgettable September 11--is both fascinating and tragic, encompassing, as it does, the best and worst of human ingenuity. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; 1st edition (November 12, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805074287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805074284
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #702,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rocco Dormarunno on August 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As a child, I watched the World Trade Center go up. As an adult, I had been through the Center thousands of times and ate many a lunch in the plaza between the two beautiful towers. Although I worked only three blocks north of the WTC, I was nowhere near them on 9/11, and thank God for that. I don't think I could have been able to bear witnessing their destruction.

To fill the void, I began reading everything about the World Trade Center that I could. Eric Darton's book, "Divided We Stand", published before 9/11, was okay but I found the second-person narration and its choppy presentation too distracting. Several other books were published after the devestation, but they all seemed like rush jobs trying to cash in on the disaster. However, "City in the Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center" by James Glanz and Eric Lipton is by far the best of the bunch. Meticulously researched without being too scholarly, the authors present a biography of the center that was filled with controversy, behind-closed-doors intrigues, political wrestling and, ultimately, the construction and engineering marvels that allowed the towers to rise. The pacing is remarkably swift but nothing is glossed over. The final quarter of the book is about 9/11 and afterward. I began this section with dread and was tempted not to read it at all. Fortunately, Glanz and Lipton handled it with incredible sensitivity.

"City in the Sky", like the towers themselves, is a remarkable collaboration: the narrative is seamless--like Burrows and Wallace's "Gotham". And, ultimately, this book is a lively and poignant tribute to the World Trade Center they must have loved.

Rocco Dormarunno,

author of "The Five Points"
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Format: Hardcover
It is all right here. From the germ of the idea at the 1939 New York World's Fair to the design and planning of a project unlike any other in the history of mankind to the cataclysmic events of September 11, 2001. New York Times reporters James Glanz and Eric Lipton have pieced together the complete history that needed to be told. "City In The Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center" is the remarkable story of how the World Trade Center came to be. This is a riveting tale from start to finish.

In the opening chapters of "City In The Sky" Glanz and Lipton reveal who first envisioned this incredible project way back in the late 1940's and of the considerable role politics would play in this saga over the ensuing decades. You will meet several of the key players in this saga including one Lawrence A. Wien, owner of the Empire State Building, who fought this project tooth and nail. Meanwhile you will also be introduced to Oscar Nadel, owner of a small appliance business that would be displaced by the World Trade Center. Put yourself in his shoes and in the shoes of hundreds of other small business people who were to be evicted in the wake of this massive project. This was definitely a David vs. Goliath scenario from this man's point of view.

Meanwhile, Glanz and Lipton also devote a considerable amount of time to the struggle between the City of New York and the New York and New Jersey Port Authority for control of this enormous project. You will learn why the WTC was located where it was and about all of the people who made this concept a reality from the visionary David Rockerfeller to the unconventional architect Minoru Yamasaki to powerful Port Authority chairman Austin Tobin.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"City in the Sky" is a well- researched, well -documented account of the site acquisition, construction, and eventual collapse of the New York World Trade Center. (There are other WTCs). It is immediately obvious that the authors have conducted extensive interviews and research. Full disclosure: This reviewer worked at the facility for 24 years for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Most of the anecdotes retold in CIS are just as I originally heard them years ago. (With some exceptions: On Austin Tobin's first trip on the newly acquired Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, the sleeping drunk supposedly woke up long enough to bid the Executive Director "good evening" before passing out again. Also, some of the PA titles are inaccurate, though not wrong. There was one obvious leg-pull about a "mailroom worker".) CIS in really 3 stories in one: The first is the strongest: That tale encompasses the struggle to condemn the surrounding real estate, overcome local opposition and secure Governmental cooperation for the project. Those who enjoyed such works as Robert Caro's "The Power Broker" will be in their element here. The second is concerned with the actual construction of the 2 towers and satellite buildings. The authors manage to include just enough technical details to tell the story without allowing this section of CIS to become too technical. The final part deals with that tragic day we now call 9/11. This reviewer does not wish to minimize that awful event but this tale has been told better, or as well, elsewhere. One assumes its' inclusion was virtually mandatory in a 400+ page work on the Trade Center but it emerges, perhaps strangely, as the weakest section of CIS.Read more ›
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