A delightful time capsule, skillfully unpacked.




With the Great Depression subsiding and Europe headed for war, New York City threw a party. It didn’t go well.

The theme of the 1939 World’s Fair was “The World of Tomorrow.” Plagued by ferocious rain storms, withering heat waves, labor disputes, power outages, lower-than-expected attendance and weak revenues, the fair’s glittering vision of the future nevertheless managed to amaze most of its 45 million attendees, even as they nervously consumed the news from overseas. Recounting the exposition’s wonders and woes, former Cosmopolitan executive editor Mauro spices his story with tales of visiting presidents, kings, queens, politicians, sports heroes and movie stars. He wonderfully elaborates on the fair’s movers and shakers: feisty Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, imperious and scheming Parks Commissioner Robert Moses and businessman Harvey Gibson, whose feckless application of “homey touches” to the proceedings embarrassed the city’s official greeter and fair president, the pretentious and beleaguered Grover Whalen. Demonstrating how real-world events intruded upon the fair’s assertions of sweetness and light, Mauro follows the careers of two policemen killed removing a bomb from the British Pavilion, and he tracks the activities of Albert Einstein, a three-time Fair visitor. Voluntarily in exile from Germany, the physicist abandoned his well-known pacifism, authoring a letter to Franklin Roosevelt warning about Hitler’s atomic-bomb program, a notification that eventually inspired the Manhattan Project. Before the end of the fair’s first season, many of the countries represented on its grounds were at war. Mauro’s story will likely appeal to fans of Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City (2003), but readers should know that the crime element plays less heavily here.

A delightful time capsule, skillfully unpacked.

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-345-51214-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2010

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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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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