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jmcsweeny

New Book on the Fair - "The End of the Innocence"

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My wife, who is a librarian, told me about a new book about the NYWF: "The End of the Innocence" by Lawrence R. Samuel. I have it on reserve at the library and will tell you more when my wife brings it home. In the meantime, here is the link to the Amazon page for it: [url:9263a]http://www.amazon.com/End-Innocence-1964-1965-York-Worlds/dp/081560890X/ref=sr_1_4/104-8129927-3670358?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1192251446&sr=1-4[/url:9263a]

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Thanks for the review, John. I just ordered a copy of my own.

And while we're reviewing World's Fair related books-- I can also recommend this great new book called EXIT TO TOMORROW which arrived at my office from Amazon just today.

51RLMzv3-2L._AA240_.jpg[/attachment:0ab90]

It's a great overview of World's Fair Architecture and design from the 30's through today with some truly beautiful photographs. Here's a link if you'd like to read more about it:

[url:0ab90]http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0789315319/002-8566527-9504006[/url:0ab90]

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The End of the Innocence

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

From April to October in 1964 and 1965, some 52 million people from around the world flocked to the New York World's Fair, an experience that lives on in the memory of many individuals and in America's collective consciousness. Lawrence R. Samuel offers a thought-provoking portrait of this seminal event and of the cultural climate that surrounded it, countering critics' assessment of the Fair as the "ugly duckling" of global expositions. Although much attention has been paid to the controversial role of Fair president Robert Moses, who tried to use the event to ensure his personal legacy, the Fair itself was for the great majority of visitors an overwhelmingly positive, often inspirational, and sometimes transcendent experience that truly delivered on its theme of "peace through understanding." Much of the Fair's popularity, Samuel suggests, stemmed from its looking backward as much as forward, offering visitors sanctuary from the cultural storm that was rapidly approaching in the mid-1960s. Opening just five months after President Kennedy's assassination, the Fair allowed millions to celebrate international brotherhood while the conflict in Vietnam came to a boil. The Fair glorified the postwar American dream of limitless optimism just as a counterculture of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll was coming into being. It was, in short, the last gasp of the American Dream: The End of the Innocence.

From the Back Cover

A poetic masterpiece, thought-provoking, and of sound scholarship.

--Philip E. Schoenberg, President, New York Talks and Walks "On the eve of opening day, a 12 billion candlepower beam of light was turned on over the fairgrounds, visible from New Haven, Connecticut, to Atlantic City, New Jersey, and outshining Times Square. Soon the world's largest fountain would be turned on and a 610-bell carillon would ring out `There's No Business Like Show Business.' Already a highly contentious political battleground and social phenomenon, `the single greatest event in history' was finally about to begin."

--From The End of the Innocence

http://www.amazon.com/End-Innocence-196 ... 850&sr=8-2

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I am as much a fan of the NYWF as anybody here, I suspect, but I have to say that the hyperbole from that book cover and that

editorial review really amazes me. "The greatest single event in history" is a bit over the top by any measure. It was a fair. I can quickly list a hundred events in world and/or American history of far greater magnitude than any exposition ever held.

And if the 1965 NYWF was, indeed,"the last gasp of the American dream," then we are all screwed. I can be as cyncial about the nation's direction as the next guy but I still have an abiding faith in the American dream or else I could not have been a teacher for thirty one years.

That line strikes me as a stunningly ignorant statement.

And I am not so sure about that "international celebration of brotherhood" line either. This was a gigantic corporate exhibition

and in the first summer of the fair, we escalated our presence in Vietnam. And the nations which did exhibit at the fair did

not reflect the greater issues of the day. The major nations were not even there. And so it goes.

I am not sure if that book cover and editorial review make me want to read this new book or totally ignore it because based on those statements, the book strikes me as drippy sentimentality and historical inaccuracy.

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"And I am not so sure about that "international celebration of brotherhood" line either. This was a gigantic corporate exhibition..."

Yeah. I was cynical about it even then, in '64-65. "Peace through understanding", yeah right. Understanding where to set the coordinates so you can drop bombs on other peoples' countries would be more like the complete sentence Maybe I listened to too much Jean Shepherd, soaked my beret in linseed oil and played the kopfspiel once too often, but I was cynical about it even then.

I was cynical about it then, but I miss it now!

Larry

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Guys,

You might want to read the book before commenting on its contents. I got it last week and have just gotten into it, but I think you'll find it to be a rather even-handed history of the fair. The quoted passage ("the greatest single event in history") is actually attributed to unnamed world's fair officials.

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Yes, I would have to agree with George. I also got my copy earlier this week-- and if anything, I think it often paints a rather unflattering portrait of the second New York World's Fair (even if all of Bill Cotter's photos are great!)

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You are at least thanked Bill, if it's any consolation... plus your website gets a plug. I just wish your photos had been published in color-- even your cover shot of the Unisphere is in black & white.

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I fully agree I should read it before I pass judgement, but I was responding to the hyperbole found in the previous post and to the information which is evidently on the book jacket. I don't wish to spend time or money on fluff and the initial reaction is that this is something less than scholarly work. I am a history and an English teacher. Decent historical interpretation and hyperbole do not work well together in any form.

I could be wrong about the text of the book but that original posting makes me suspicious.

Who is the publisher of the book? The Amazon information does not appear to include a publisher's name. Is it available in bookstores or is it strictly internet availability? I want to actually turn through the pages before I endorse the book with my money.

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fluff and the initial reaction is that this is something less than scholarly work.

You don’t have to look too far, it seems there is a lot of that going around.

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Not sure what that means...

But as a writer, I hate to see another writer's book get trashed over a mindless blurb designed by someone else to sell it. For what it's worth-- I believe The End of the Innocence truly is a scholarly work, and like the author's credentials, speaks for itself.

Author

Lawrence R. Samuel is the author of seven books, including Pledging Allegiance: American Identity and the Bond Drive of World War II and Television Advertising and the American Dream. He writes, consults, teaches, and lives in Miami Beach, Florida.

Here's a review from the Queens Gazette:

The End of the Innocence’ Captures ‘64 World’s Fair Era

Whether the 1964-65 World’s Fair was a success or a failure depends on who is doing the evaluating. For many people, the exposition that finally led to the transformation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s "Valley of Ashes" into Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and brought both Michelangelo’s Pieta and the Belgian waffle to America was at once an introduction to and a confirmation of an America that would continue to lead the world in innovations, inventions and standard of living. For others, the fair was an exercise in blatant consumerism and capitalism at its crassest. One thing is certain, according to Lawrence R. Samuel in his The End of the Innocence: The 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, the fair’s effects on the world, both for the 52 million people who walked through its gates and the billions more who did not, continue today, 42 years after it closed for the last time.

Samuel offers a thought-provoking portrait of the fair and the cultural climate that surrounded it. He counters critics’ assessments of the fair as the "ugly duckling" of global expositions by pointng out the lasting effects it has had on America and the world.

Opening five months after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the fair allowed millions to celebrate international brotherhood while the conflict in Vietnam came to a boil. The fair was perhaps the last time so many from so far could gather to praise harmony while ignoring cruel realities on such a gargantuan scale. This World’s Fair glorified the postwar American dream of limitless optimism even as a counterculture of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll came into being. It could rightly be called the last gasp of that dream, underlining the appropriateness of the title The End of the Innocence.

The End of the Innocence emphasizes the dichotomy that permeates any retelling of the story of the 1964-65 World’s Fair. As a business enterprise, the fair lost money, Samuel says, overcharged exhibitors and offended the intellectual and aesthetic elite. But the popular memory of the fair was an experience that most visitors found "thoroughly enjoyable if not enthralling" and sparked imaginations and reshaped people’s vision of the world. Given this two-sided aspect of the fair, The End of the Innocence tells the story of the fair in two ways. "Peace Through Understanding", Part I, is a chronological history of the fair from early 1958, when the concept first came into being, to the demolition of most of the buildings in 1966. Its three chapters, "The Greatest Event In History", "Heigh Ho, Ho Hum" and "Second Time Around" examine "the who, what and why of the Fair", according to Samuel’s Introduction and give "a broad overview of the dynamics leading up to the event in season one and in season two". In Part II, "Tomorrow Begins Today", Samuel in three more chapters, "The House of Good Taste", "Global Holiday" and "Sermons from Science", "traces the history of the fair thematically, focusing on its commercialism, national and international identity and emphasis on science, technology and the future".

It is, of course, impossible to compile a history of the 1964-65 World’s Fair without mentioning Robert Moses. "Although his World’s Fair may very well have put an end to his already damaged career, Robert Moses, as usual, is no doubt having the last laugh in the big construction site in the sky," reads the first sentence of Samuel’s final chapter, appropriately titled "Conclusion". Moses’ ultimate purpose was turning the valley of ashes into a "dream park" for the citizens of New York City, and the 1964-65 World’s Fair, even more than its 1939-40 predecessor, was instrumental in his achieving that goal. Moses, according to Samuel, used both World’s Fairs as "a massive, long-term public works program to beautify a big, ugly chunk of Queens". Samuel also points out that Moses may have been right in his assertion that critics don’t know anything- " or maybe it’s that they simply know too much". The fair’s critics, then and now, have focused on "its profoundly conservative tone; overabundance of kitschy, over-the-top commercialism; and absence of many European nations". Samuels, who as a child was taken to the fair by his parents and thoroughly enjoyed it, nevertheless gives an honest and cleareyed look at the most regrettable aspect of the fair: "that more progressive ideas and activities were not allowed to penetrate Moses’s [sic] safe bubble in Queens". According to Samuel, "the Fair’s real failure was that it fell short of its full potential to educate people about the world around them by not embracing a wider range of human expression, especially that of youth culture and African Americans".

Samuel notes, however, that the experiences of the individuals who visited the fair "were not only joyous at the time but often left a deep, lasting impact for the rest of their lives". As for the children who visited the fair, "it also planted a seed of the possibility to achieve great things. It may be safe to say that some of baby boomers’ überachievement ethos that hit full stride in the 1980s is a result of their visit or visits to the Fair". And while Flushing Meadows- Corona Park may not rival its more well publicized Manhattan counterpart, Central Park, in beauty or grandeur, nor does it bear the name of its creator, "who knows," Samuel says, "maybe in another hundred years it will do both. Stranger things have certainly happened in Flushing Meadows."

The End of the Innocence is a scholarly, well-researched tome with extensive notes that is nevertheless accessible, entertaining, and informative. The book is richly illustrated with 55 contemporary photographs that were taken by one Bill Cotter and are candids that capture some of the real fair experiences, rather than commissioned photos that now fill archives and in many cases appear staged and artificial. Samuel also notes that almost all sources cited date from the era of the fair and do not include many subsequent memories and reflections. "Although I’m as big a fan of oral history as anyone, I felt it was important to capture events as they occurred for accuracy’s sake," he says. He has succeeded: the book provides a fascinating glimpse of a way of life that existed for some people 45 years ago, a way of life that ended for everyone after the fair closed in October 1965 and the era known as the Sixties truly began.

Samuel is a serious scholar who possesses the admirable quality of keeping his mind on his work. While The End of the Innocence is definitely written by an academic for an audience of serious students of New York City and cultural history, its lively tone and absence of pretentiousness make it worth a look from anyone who wants to learn about an era that those who lived during it thought would never end.

—Queens Gazette

http://www.qgazette.com/news/2007/1010/review/026.html

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I'll have to read that one, after reading Trey's review, I know I will enjoy it. But first, I just finally got around to ordering Bill and Bill's book, which I am really looking forward to seeing. I even have a spot reserved for it right next to the Wurts book. Bill, are the photos in your book all from your CD's? I ask because I plan on ordering some CD's in the very near future, but can't decide which ones! Was also wondering if the entire book is Black and White or if you have color plates as well. The book is on it's way and I am sure I will love it, just thought I'd ask a couple questions about it while I wait for it's arrival. I am always thrilled to see a new World's Fair picture, so this book will be a special treat for me, kind of like an early Christmas Present.

(Or a very late one from last Christmas, it seems that the holiday season never goes away anymore lol)

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Thanks for posting that review, Trey. I feel famous now! I haven't seen the book yet myself and am looking forward to seeing how it turned out.

Larry Samuel contacted me about two years ago looking for photos to illustrate his book. I asked about the intended tone of the book, wanting to make sure it wasn't something to trash the Fair or Robert Moses. He assured me it wasn't, so we worked to find a set of photos. The originals were all in color, and can be found on my CDs. After several rounds of passing potential ones back and forth I converted the ones he picked into B&W, and helped correct a few errors in the captions.

I hope you enjoy the Arcadia book - and are keeping some space on the book shelf for the sequel! Mr. Young and I are actively working away on it, and it should have some stuff to interest even jaded NYWF collectors - or so we hope!!

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"Moses’ ultimate purpose was turning the valley of ashes into a "dream park" for the citizens of New York City, and the 1964-65 World’s Fair, even more than its 1939-40 predecessor, was instrumental in his achieving that goal."

Firstly, congrats Bill! I too have some work coming out - in a book about the Cunard R.M.S. Aquitania - 29 previously unknown unseen color images of the great 4-stacker - restorations I brought back from the very dead (and VERY overexposed). I hope yours flies off the shelves...

I'm sorry but I can't keep my mouth shut.

Let's not get carry away here.......the stuff I tried to express in my Astronomer post regarding the meaning of those objects which dwarfed any to follow in size or content...that was dream. I'll grant - 1964 did this, that and probably the other and darn well, but no one I have ever spoken to or questioned who went to both...well, you know how one goes. If you take the meaning of the sentence as it was intended, to turn the area into a LASTING Park for the peoples - well, I'll agree, but we'd not be talking about this were it not for the Fairs which generated all of this, and the incredibly vast land reclamation was in 1936...

In that context, and for that so very brief time, there was a breathing dream in Flushing....radiating light of a new kind in a very coherent way. I know the pre-war dream in kind of hard for some of us to imagine these days, it is to me more meaningful than the post-war nightma...uh...dream this human race has engineered. I'm not looking to get into any sort of bout about anything, just giving my own thoughts on the topic. End of 5 AM rant - now back to your regularly scheduled program.

MB

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My wife brought "The End of the Innocence" home yesterday. Due to a busy weekend I have only had time to get through the Introduction. However, the book seems promising, realistic and balanced.

Interestingly, Bill Cotter is credited with actually taking all of the pictures in the book. Indeed, Samuel states that he wanted to use pictures "taken by an 'average' visitor to capture some of the real Fair experience." Perhaps Bill can clarify things but I am assume that while the pictures in the book come from his collection, they were not all taken by him personally. One other snafu that I have noticed already is the statement that the giant cheese was inside the Wisconsin pavilion. This is a small matter for the average Joe but to a Fair nut and former Cheesehead it stuck out.

With the exception of these two glitches I have enjoyed the book so far.

More to follow.

John

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The cheese truck was driven under a fixed steel roof structure that was considered part of the Wisconsin Pavilion, and it was hooked up to a fixed air conditioning unit. But the truck could be driven out from under the roof structure- and indeed the cheese was taken on a nationwide tour between the two Fair seasons.

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I got a copy in the mail yesterday (Sat 01/12) from Amazon, and the first 20 pages have been quite good so far. I read that Moses got the WFC president's job, only after 2 generals had turned it down. I thought Moses had that job sewn up from the start. Also the candidate had to be between 50 and 60 years old. Moses, in his seventies, somehow got around that requirement. No EEOA in those days!

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