1939: The Lost World of the Fair


by: David Gelernter
Format: Hardcover

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Product Description Offers a compelling portrait of the 1939 World's Fair in New York City, examining its pivotal post-Depression and pre-World War II climate and citing its role in history and international relations. 30,000 first printing. Tour. Amazon.com Review This book is a strange beast: a meditation on the meaning of the 1939 New York World's Fair seen through the lens of David Gelernter's angry political opinion that society today has gone to moral rot and ruin--mostly because of the ideas of New York-style liberals, who have led us astray. Richly detailed observations of the 1939 World's Fair and its social milieu are interspersed with a rather sparse fictional account of an old-fashioned romance that got its fuse lit on the fairgrounds. If you want a straightforward 1939 World's Fair novel, the classic is still , by E. L. Doctorow. But Gelernter writes likes nobody else. His historical research is painstaking, and his pro-1939, anti-modern political jeremiad gives the book an eccentric but propulsive narrative drive. Gelernter has a qualified love of two-fisted old-time social engineers, such as , and he yearns for a time when society was ruled by authority figures instead of celebrities. Ah, the good old days, when the 1939 World's Fair introduced America to TV, the fax machine, nylons, fluorescent lighting, long-distance phone calls, and an underwater Salvador Dali exhibit starring live, half-nude women. Gelernter wrote this book while recovering from a murder attempt by the Unabomber (recounted in Gelernter's ), but his true claim to fame is the cranky individualism of his mind. From Publishers Weekly The 1939-40 New York World's Fair was built on a garbage dump in Flushing, Queens. Through the eyes of fictitious characters, we see the exhibits: AT&T, Ford, General Motors, DuPont, Futurama and Democracity. We review the fair's many firsts: the introduction of regular TV broadcasting, FM radio, fluorescent lighting and the fax machine. The computer?which existed in a rudimentary form?wasn't even mentioned. We are introduced to the society of the day?everyone loved big-band music, men always seemed to wear neckties and all feared the European war that had just begun. Also at the fair, "pornography was a mainstay"; the fair perhaps even invented the peep show. The author convincingly argues that the Americans of 1939 were more sophisticated than Americans are today: they were readers, and their educational systems were superior. Three names crop up repeatedly: President Franklin Roosevelt, inventor of the New Deal, which fueled the money that made New York City what it is; Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, the no-nonsense turbo known as the Little Flower; and builder Robert Moses, the man with the edifice complex that made?and some say destroyed?modern New York City. Return to a time when lunch at the Automat was 15?, the streets were safe?and remember one thing: the fair went bankrupt. Gelernter (The Muse in the Machine) has given us a portrait of yesteryear that is to be cherished. Photos not seen by PW. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Booklist The New York World's Fair of 1939, with its Futurama, Democrocity, Perisphere, and Trylon, was an optimistic prophecy of America's future. In essence, Gelernter compares its precepts of a cultured, technological utopia with the low-brow compulsions of consumerism that pass for American culture today. In some passages, he makes the contrast directly; in the main, he makes the point by re-creating the look and feel of that fair, which he extracts from exhibit brochures and a visitor's diary. Examining that view of that future, Gelernter stresses the attitudes it showcased, like trust in industrialists and eagerness to buy their wares. Technologically, much of what the World of Tomorrow glamorized has been realized: TV, superhighways, suburbia, material comfort. But the World of Today, its social fragmentations and pathologies, was not part of the pla


Product Code: 9780028740027
ISBN: 0028740025
Publisher: Free Press
Publication Date: 1995-05-01
Number of Pages: 418 pages
Languages: english
Edition: First Edition
Dimension: 5.98 x 1.61 x 7.99 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.48 pounds