Divided we stand : a biography of New York's World Trade Center /

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Main Author: Darton, Eric.
Format: Book
Published:New York : Basic Books, c1999.
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Review by Choice Review

To many, New York City's World Trade Towers would constitute an unlikely topic for a book, one likely to engulf the reader in a data equivalent to the two million gallons of sewage emitted daily from the nether reaches of the grossly proportioned twin shafts. But Darton (writing, New York Univ.), moving with consummate skill and grace among the disciplines of history, economics, journalism, and social criticism, has written a brilliant, deeply felt, and highly readable account of the individuals, events, and forces that brought the World Trade Towers into being and nearly toppled them. Darton brings an uncanny vividness to the experience of the building itself, to the plight of the hundreds of small merchants displaced by the project, to a critical assessment of the career of the architect, Minoru Yamasaki, to the union leaders, and to the power plays of the politicians, bankers, and real estate brokers who stood to benefit from the project. It is a testament to his writing that a building so formally disengaged from everything around it could become the subject of a book that informs us so richly about the city. General readers; upper-division undergraduates; faculty; professionals. ; SUNY at Buffalo

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Despite its coy and misleading subtitle, this is a mesmerizing history of how deep-seated struggles over architectural aspirations, economics, city planning and the exigencies of a democracy undergird the New York cityscape. Taking the planning and building of the twin towers of the World Trade Center as a point of departure, Darton treats readers to a smoothly written and provocative study of everything from the potentially utopian nature of cities to the role of the automobile in urban redevelopment, and from the aesthetics and politics of constructing tall structures (including the Eiffel Tower) to a history of the contested development of lower Manhattan. While grounded in the theories of such diverse thinkers as Jane Jacobs, Peter Kropotkin, John Ruskin, Marshall Berman, LeCorbusier and Lewis Mumford, Darton's dramatic narrative never loses sight of the strong personalities and (often unscrupulous) political hardball that reshaped Manhattan. Central figures include such power players as master planner Robert Moses ("who by his own description hacked his way through New York with a meat ax") and investment developer David Rockefeller and his brother, Nelson, the governor of New York State (whom Darton casually compares to gangsters). A professor of media, technology and cultural studies at Hunter College, Darton is best when elucidating the economic interests behind urban renewal and the destruction of neighborhoods that has often ensued in more than 40 years of Manhattan redevelopment, culminating in the building of one of New York's iconic landmarks. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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