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You Must Remember This: An Oral History of Manhattan from the 1890s to World War II Paperback – April 28, 1990

5.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Paperback, April 28, 1990
$57.08 $0.12
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his first book, Manhattan journalist Kisseloff offers a torrent of verbatim recollections by long-time New Yorkers whose memories remain green, "as time goes by." The past emerges here not as history but as lived life in the vivid descriptions of immigrants and their descendants, who populated the widely varied sections of the metropolis. Hardly a melting pot, the city was divided into ethnic enclaves--Jewish, Chinese, Irish, German--each with an individual character. Mostly poor and uneducated, these new Americans were blessed with certain survival techniques, including a healthy sense of humor. There are also reminiscences by privileged citizens, notably the 1920s society flappers, and anecdotes about famous Manhattanites like Eugene O'Neill, Gene Tunney and Billie Holiday. Kisseloff provides graphic descriptions of neighborhoods, then and now, and the origins of such place names as Hell's Kitchen, Murray Hill, Greenwich Village et al. But the lusty, sad, startling, funny, bawdy--even cruel--stories are so immediate one becomes convinced anew that New York is, as the song has it, a wonderful town. Photos.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Forget for the moment Manhattan as world center for art, theater, business, finance . . . and gaze at the "island of small towns" where Kisseloff, a journalist, preserves recollections of 137 ordinary New Yorkers. From the Upper East Side to Hell's Kitchen, he divides the city into ten areas, devoting a chapter and a dozen voices to each. The speakers are a diverse lot; many have lived through interesting events. The accounts are vivid and down to earth. We catch the distinct flavor of neighborhoods as they were. But this is an oral history; many more could be done without exhausting the subject. Necessarily subjective, the author's choice of interviewees (his father is one) subtly affects the total picture. Strengths and weaknesses of the oral history method are here: unique perspectives, the human touch; unverifiability, the flight from meaning. For libraries collecting social history.
- Priscilla E. Pratt, M.L.S., East Setauket, N.Y.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 622 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken (April 28, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805209794
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805209792
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,732,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If that slow, plodding Ric Burns series on PBS was the official history of New York City, "You Must Remember This" is the indispensible people's history: actual voices from the turn of the century (the last century) telling what it was really like to live in the immigrant Lower East Side, the Hell's Kitchen waterfront, Jazz-era Harlem, the last stretches of rural Inwood. With this and "The Box," Kisseloff is hands-down the most perceptive and consistently fascinating oral historian I've read, and yes, that's counting Studs Terkel. Buy one for yourself, and one for a history-lovin' friend.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Kisseloff is a master at his craft of interviewing people and then weaving the results into what seems to be a round-table discussion of the subject. As in his history of television, "The Box," he was able to catch some of the old-timers before they passed on. The result in both cases was a treasure trove of first-hand information. I couldn't even attempt to list the fascinating facts to be found in both of these books. What a treat!
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By A Customer on June 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
one of the best written books on these subject thati have ever read, and i have read many.bits of history from those who lived it. no long boring pages, just short very useful and amusing stories. absolutely love this book. sorry it took me so long to order it.
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Format: Hardcover
kisselhoff manages to recount one of the most interesting periods of history through not only one persons view - but hundreds. By interviewing the people who created and witnessed history, the reader is taken back to a time when stickball was played on the streets and egg cream sodas were the rage. recounted by witnesses, the history of ny is a must read for everyone!
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Format: Paperback
Personal stories for readers who enjoyed Betty Smith's Brooklyn or Joseph Mitchell's character monologues. We see that America has always been built by English-as-a-second-language immigrants. It's not just Manhattan as much as it is the human experience.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the best non-fiction titles I've read this year. The author clearly put in a lot of time in finding interesting subjects to interview, then synthesizing their feedback into detailed, intimate, sometimes funny, other times touching accounts of life in NY (split up by neighborhood), when Els still rumbled above Manhattan, immigrants were still crammed into poorly ventilated tenements, and the Meatpacking District still reeked of animal carcasses.

If you're a fan of NYC history, this is one of the best ways to dig deeper and immerse yourself in a narrative that is as easy-reading as it is informative. Some of the anecdotes really come to life, and you can picture the interviewees, with their various accents and socioeconomic backgrounds.

In short, highly recommended!
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