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The End of the Innocence: The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair Hardcover – October 1, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


A legacy of the events, which unfold in this accessible book...Recommended. -- CHOICE

An overdue and well-deserved encomium to a largely denigrated chapter in [New York] city's history. -- The New York Times, July 27, 2008

Will appeal both to readers who were at the fair and those who'd like to learn about it. -- Library Journal

From the Back Cover

A poetic masterpiece, thought-provoking, and of sound scholarship.
--Philip E. Schoenberg, President, New York Talks and Walks "On the eve of opening day, a 12 billion candlepower beam of light was turned on over the fairgrounds, visible from New Haven, Connecticut, to Atlantic City, New Jersey, and outshining Times Square. Soon the world's largest fountain would be turned on and a 610-bell carillon would ring out `There's No Business Like Show Business.' Already a highly contentious political battleground and social phenomenon, `the single greatest event in history' was finally about to begin."

--From The End of the Innocence


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press (October 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081560890X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815608905
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 1 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,074,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first half of the book explains the birth and idea to even think about initiating another world's fair in N.Y. Seeing at that time frame, that the 1939 N.Y. fair was only 20 years old. The second half gets into the actual fair exhibits and the trials and tribulations behind the scenes.
The best book I've read on the nuts & bolts of the 64-65 World's Fair. A wealth of facts backed up by foot notes. The author does a great job organizing this detail into a more or less chronological order that makes it enjoyable to read and understand.
Although there is a lot of trivia relating to individual exhibits, if you are looking for mechanical detail such as animatronics and stories behind the actual designers and workers of the great exhibits and what they did to make things work. This book may not be the right one. But since there is so little written on the 60's N.Y. World's Fair, This book has answered many of the questions I had about it, both trivia wise and politically.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been waiting a long time for a comprhensive book about the 64-65 NYWF. I was a frequent visitor over the course of the two seasons and have fond memories. Several family members were also involved in building the fair so there are even more close connections. My collection of memorabilia is quite extensive (....an original advertising poster featuring the Unisphere hangs framed in my den.) I was prepared to enjoy this book from Page One and for the most part I did. Much of the information was familiar but there was also much I was not aware of. As the author says in the introduction, this fair has been overlooked by historians, for a variety of reasons, but it deserves a much more in-depth documentation. My only complaint is there are some annoying and sometimes glaring errors. I don't know if these are simply editorial mistakes or just a bit of sloppy research. For example, the author mentions that Queen Frederica of Spain viewed the fairgrounds during the construction phase. (it was Queen Frederica of GREECE.) He says the Unisphere was built to be the symbol of the fair just as the Eiffel Tower was the symbol of the 1867 Paris Exposition. (The tower was built for the 1889 Paris Exposition.) The author goes in to great detail about the tribulations of the Louisiana Pavilion, including its ill-conceived minstrel show 'America Be Seated.' He mentions the pavilion, located in the Federal & State Area, being picketed by a variety of civil rights groups, protesting the show as well as the general lack of African-American employment at the fair. In fact 'America Be Seated' was NOT presented in the Louisiana Pavilion. According to the official fair guidebook, it was part of the Missippippi River Showboat attraction in the Lake Amusement Area.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
With extensive footnotes, an extended bibliography, and occasionally illustrated with historic black-and-white photography, "The End Of The Innocence: The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair" by Lawrence R. Samuel is a descriptive analysis of the New York World's Fair that ran from April 1964 to October 1965 and was attended by approximately fifty-two million people. A seminal event of its decade, and reflective of the cultural climate in which it occurred, this World's Fair had a powerful and enduring impact on the nation which was, for the overwhelming majority of its visitors, was consistently positive, often inspirational, and occasionally transcendent. Held just five months after President John F. Kennedy's assassination, the World Fair was held in a time of turbulence that included American participation in the Vietnam War and an emerging counter-culture among the youth. But the Fair showcased the postwar American dream of an optimistic future. A work of meticulous scholarship combined with Samuel's narrative skill as a writer, "The End Of The Innocence" is especially recommended to the attention of students of American popular culture, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in 20th Century American history.
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Format: Hardcover
The End of the Innocence is most interesting in that it tells about what was almost two completely separate World's Fairs. There was the fair the visitors (including myself as a child) experienced, and the fair as experienced by the investors and critics. And it seems that the visitors had a much better time of it! Lawrence Samuel breaks the book into two sections: planning/execution and the fair experience, which works out to map pretty well to the two perspectives described above; a very reasonable and understandable way to handle the material.

The detail provided is remarkable; the book is researched incredibly well. I'm surprised that this much material was available. After reading it, I recommend purchasing any of the several DVDs available of films made for the fair; the book provides some excellent background for appreciating and enjoying this sort of material even more than one otherwise might

One minor negative note - Samuel seems to have an anti-commerce, pro-unrest bias and this shows in his writing. Robert Moses successfully created an oasis of peace and plenty in what was rapidly becoming the tumult of the '60s; Samuel implies in the book that this was fraudulent on a fundamental level. I don't agree. If *you* agree, subtract a star to my rating.
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