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Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair And The Transformation Of America Hardcover – January 7, 2014
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“Tirella explores the contrast between the purported idealism of the 1964 World’s Fair and the conflict and compromise that surrounded the event…. The Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, rising urban crime and racial strife provide the backdrop for Tirella’s detailed history.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“In an interesting and original way, Joseph Tirella has used the storied setting of the 1964–65 World’s Fair in New York to describe the entrepreneurial spirit, the criminal nature, the egalitarian tendencies, and inevitable compromises that characterized a complex and important period in the history of the city and the nation.”
—Gay Talese, author of The Kingdom and the Power, The Bridge, and A Writer's Life
“Just in time for the 50th anniversary of opening day, Joseph Tirella, in this carefully detailed account, explores the fair itself and, perhaps more important, uses that extraordinary event as a lens through which to view one of the more critical junctures in American history…. [A] a fascinating trip back to what the fair’s mastermind, Robert Moses, dreamed would be the “greatest single event in human history,” during one of the most tumultuous periods in recent memory.”
—The Weekly Standard
“As much a history of mid-Sixties America as it is a history of the World’s Fair in Queens, New York, Joseph Tirella’s entertaining and impeccably researched Tomorrow-Land brings the forces and players of that turbulent era crackling to life.”
—Emily Raboteau, author of Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora
“With Tomorrow-Land, Joseph Tirella makes a riveting case for Queens, New York, as the origin of all that is great and modern in today’s America. If you’ve ever wondered what Robert Moses, Andy Warhol, and Malcolm X have in common, this book connects the dots and more. Tirella breathes in all the tumult and cultural vertigo surrounding the 1964 World’s Fair, and exhales an intoxicating swirl of pure possibility.”
—Alec Foege, author of The Tinkerers: The Amateurs, DIYers, and Inventors Who Make America Great
“This book is filled with fascinating stories about global political contests between the Soviet Union and the United States, domestic protests against social inequality, the politics of massive resistance waged by conservatives of both major parties, corporations playing social engineering games, America becoming a multicultural nation, and New York City experiencing massive physical change. Joseph Tirella’s Tomorrow-Land takes us back in time fifty years and documents through thorough research and wonderful narrative how the World’s Fair fell short of its goal to promote, ‘Peace Through Understanding,’ but still managed to give America an accurate vision of its future self.”
—Brian Purnell, Africana Studies and History, Bowdoin College, and author of Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings: The Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn
“First-time author Tirella, a former reporter for the New York Times, adroitly switches focus from [Robert] Moses and the fair to external events in the city, nation and world and back again, following several disparate threads—the civil rights dialectic between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., a New York City obscenity crusade that targeted Lenny Bruce and the gay bohemian subculture, the parallel paths of the Beatles and Bob Dylan, the escalation of the Vietnam War—and never losing control of the narrative’s forward momentum…. [T]he World’s Fair provides an excellent perspective on the 1960s in America…. Top-notch popular history.”
"A model of accessible narrative, showing the author’s immersion in archival research, this book will be appreciated most by those who love reading about Sixties or New York City history or, of course, world’s fairs."
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Top Customer Reviews
Its insights into the planning of the fair and the heavy-handed management by Robert Moses are valuable, and complement Robert Caro's pioneering work about Moses, "The Power Broker."
This book, however, is sloppily edited and proofread. Too bad Lyons Press apparently didn't supply either form of editorial oversight. Contractor Del Webb and New York Senator Jacob Javits have their names misspelled repeatedly in the book (the Javits Center in New York City is only the largest convention center in that city; how hard would it be for a New York City author to get that right?). Ed Sullivan's TV show wasn't "the most important half-hour of television in show business," it was an hour. Little errors and grammatical mistakes follow, and compromise what could have been an exceptional new history of the World's Fair.
On the positive side--and this is why I still give the book a thumbs-up--Tirella provides extensive detail about Robert Moses's role in creating and developing the fair and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that led to the development of some of the pavilions. He also covers some of the public reaction, both positive and negative, to the fair. These sections are very valuable and make the book essential reading for anyone interested in this fair, and worthwhile for those interested in New York City history or fairs and expositions generally.
As other reviewers have noted, the book is rife with factual and typographical errors. I get the sense that it would have benefited from another year or two of reflection and editing, but I suspect it was rushed out to maximize sales in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the fair. Perhaps the author has a second edition in him?
Ken Kesey returning to his "ranch in La Jolla, California". While hardly a ranch, his house in the woods was in La Honda, south of San Francisco (and mentioned as La Honda later in the book).
The amphitheater was not built for the 1994 fair, but for 1939 - and Billy Rose's Aquacade was put on there well into the 1950's. One doesn't have to be an expert in eastern religion to know that Richard Alpert's (called "Robert Alpert" in the book), new name of Baba Ram Dass was not a "Zen moniker".
Worst of all, he decides that the decision to strip Muhammad Ali of his title and ban him from boxing was reversed by the Supreme Court - of course what they reversed was his conviction for refusing the draft, and had nothing to do with boxing.
All of these and many others could have been fixed with 30 seconds on Wikipedia!
Having spent many enjoyable days at the fair as a teenager (and sneaking through a hole in the fence behind the AT&T pavilion a few times), I was looking forward to something much better - and at least somewhat accurate!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a good, readable book, not merely an account of the 1964-65 World fair, but an attempt to place it in the context of the era. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Andrew J. Heller
Tomorrow Land was a very interesting look at the post JFK era and the actual start of the 1960's. The Civil Rights marches, Dylan, Beatles, LBJ, are all touched on in this book. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Grimston
Not nearly enough pictures. I attended the Worlds Fair that year. I wanted to reminisce with some pics.Published 15 months ago by Susan Descutner Kaspersen
Couldn't get into this book.....starts out way too slow, very boring.Published 17 months ago by S. Young
I both enjoyed the book and found it informative, even acknowledging the many miscues. As a long time fan of Margaret Keane, I was disappointed that her husband was still being... Read morePublished 17 months ago by wckercher2
It's OK. Only Ok. It is way, way too heavy on the racial stuff. I was interested in the fair, not the civil rights struggle. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Canonfog
As one who visited the World's Fair in July 1965 when I was 13, I read this book to get the back story of what I remember so vividly. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great book! Anyone who is a NYC history buff, this book is a great read!Published 19 months ago by Kotelly