A must-read study of the power of democracy and shared memory to shape our public spaces.



A well-tempered account of the fraught political struggles over the reconstruction of the World Trade Center.

Greenspan (Urban Anthropology/Harvard) is not a New Yorker; she was raised in Philadelphia and now lives in Boston. This distance on the subject, as well as her training, may account for her ability to keep her head above the fray. Despite her “outsider” status, Greenspan paid close attention to developments at ground zero from the earliest days after 9/11. She interviewed not only major players, including former New York governor George Pataki, commercial real estate developer Larry Silverstein, designer Daniel Libeskind, Port Authority Chairman Christopher Ward, and surviving family members and activists, but also “ordinary” people—tourists, lower Manhattan residents, 9/11 truthers and members of Occupy Wall Street—to get at the broad range of meanings of the disaster to the city, the nation and the world. Considering how different those meanings are to different people, it’s a virtual miracle any progress on reconstruction was made. From early on, the Port Authority, which owned the land, and Silverstein, who owned the buildings on it, struggled to balance their need to rebuild commercial space with expectations from families and politicians to respect the “sacred” ground believed to contain the irretrievable remains of up to a third of those killed in the attacks. Winner of an international competition to create a master plan for the space, Libeskind saw his design altered to the point where only the height of his proposed Freedom Tower remained. Greenspan also tells the fascinating stories of the most contentious controversies, including the Freedom Center, a well-connected, well-meaning educational organization crushed by popular opposition, and the Islamic Center two blocks north of ground zero, which weathered a similar campaign in 2010.

A must-read study of the power of democracy and shared memory to shape our public spaces.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-230-34138-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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