It's not scholarly, but it certainly is fun. Recommended for even casual fans of Big Apple history and culture.


A diverting presentation of objects encapsulating nearly 400 years of New York City history.

New York Times urban affairs correspondent Roberts (Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America, 2013, etc.) offers another installment in the recent spate of "a history of x in x objects" books, this one an expansion of a popular feature he created for his newspaper. Such endeavors are inevitably superficial; it is impossible to adequately present the history of anything through a few dozen objects without committing vast sins of omission. The best that can be expected is some illuminating glimpses of that history as revealed by objects left behind—which is, after all, one of the major purposes of museums. This book might best be viewed as a portable virtual museum. Since it is virtual, it can contain small items (a black and white cookie), very large ones (the Cross Bronx Expressway) and an item that probably no longer exists (the baseball from the "shot heard 'round the world" in 1951). The author explains that the 101 choices, while "highly subjective…had to have played some transformative role in New York City's history or they had to be emblematic of some historic transformation. They also had to be enduring, which meant they could not be disproportionately tailored to recent memory or contemporary nostalgia”—though 60 of the selections are post-1900. Still, Roberts delivers an entertaining stroll through the history of one of the world's great cities. Each item is illustrated with a photograph, most in color, and described in two or three pages of sprightly text. While some selections are necessarily obvious—the Times Square New Year's Eve ball, for example—most are delightfully surprising, from the city's iconic rooftop water tanks to Rosie Ruiz's New York Marathon certificate.

It's not scholarly, but it certainly is fun. Recommended for even casual fans of Big Apple history and culture.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-2877-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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