Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect a City's Landmarks
By Anthony C. Wood '76
It sounds like something out of a fairy tale, but a corner of East 79th Street on New York's Upper East Side was once home to a replica of a sixteenth-century Loire Valley chateau. Built by manufacturing magnate Isaac Brokaw in 1887, the mansion stood for nearly a century as one of what the New York Times called the city's "finest examples of the baronial and classical homes of New York's kingly merchants and bankers . . . extravagant, luxurious constructions designed with pride and pardonable ostentation."
Then, in 1965, the wrecking ball arrived. Preservationists lost the subsequent fight over keeping the mansion, but they won the bigger battle. That year, New York enacted its Landmarks Law and established the Landmarks Preservation Commission to protect sites "thirty years old or older" that had historical interest or value "as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the city, state, or nation."
In Preserving New York, Anthony C. Wood gives the background to this drama. While urban legend tells us that New York's Landmarks Law began with the fight over Penn Station, Wood unearths a far more interesting story reaching back to the 1800s, complete with historic photos of key players and landmarks. By giving the history behind the history, Wood has created a compelling document worthy of coffee-table browsing and deeper study.
ABC Travel Guides for Kids
By Matthew G. Rosenberger '89
ABC Travel Guides for Kids
During a family trip to Boston in 2001, Matthew Rosenberger noticed that his two-year-old daughter was just as fascinated by her new surroundings as the adults were. If only, he thought, there were a travel guide to help kids learn about a new city's landmarks.
And so ABC Travel Guides for Kids was born. Full of colorful photos of iconic places arranged by the letter of the alphabet, the books guide kids through Manhattan (from the American Museum of Natural History to the famous Zabar's gourmet shop), Philadelphia (the Art Museum at Avenue of the Arts to the Zooballoon), and, in a brand new addition to the series, Boston (the Aquarium to Zakim Bridge).
Each book includes a map of the city that shows where the landmarks are located, and the Boston book features factoids along with the photos. The featured landmarks are chosen for their child-friendliness (Tadpole Playground and Whale Watch tours in Boston, for example). The sturdy little books make great souvenirs--and, who knows, they may just turn your child into a virtuoso globetrotter, one letter at a time.
Trinity: A Haydn & Speaker Mystery
By Reed Browning
The versatile Reed Browning has once again happily enlarged his intellectual range. Browning, who retired last year after four decades on the history faculty, has won recognition not only as a teacher and scholar but also as a chronicler of baseball history. He's an avid amateur composer, too.
Now he brings us a mystery novel, one that embraces arson, Herodotus, and the secret lives of small-college denizens. In Trinity, we meet Connie Haydn, a retired philosophy professor who favors "Nietzsche is Peachy" sweatshirts, and Shrug Speaker, Haydn's self-described "would-be theologian sidekick." A retired farmer on his deathbed hires them to solve a years-old mystery: Was the man who died in prison for the murder of Vince d'Amato the real culprit; and if not, who was the killer? As Haydn and Speaker start turning over old stones, the secrets they unearth threaten their small town's sense of stability and lead to a bloody warning delivered with the morning paper.
Originally published online in serial form, Trinity can be downloaded in its entirety from the website of Xoxox Press (www.xoxoxpress.com), which is based in Gambier and run by Jerry Kelly '96. Because it's a gripping, fast read, the online format works well, although it is also formatted for printing out. As the publisher notes, it's a "page-turner or screen-scroller, as the case may be." And while we don't want to give away any secrets, the twist at the end will have you redefining the idea of a "mastermind."
Europe at Bay: In the Shadow of U.S. Hegemony
By Alan W. Cafruny '74 and Magnus Ryner
Lynne Rienner Publishers
When the celebrated Maastricht Treaty established the framework for what we now know as the European Union in 1993, hopes rode high. The treaty gave citizens the right to move to and live in any member state, led to a universal currency, and set out promising economic and social agreements. The EU would challenge the United States's dominance on the world scene, boosters said, and solidify a pan-European identity among the separate states.
In Europe at Bay, Alan W. Cafruny takes off the rose-colored glasses and investigates the current state of the EU. Working against orthodox analyses, Cafruny argues that various problems plaguing the EU--slow economic growth, high unemployment, and weakened social cohesion-- reflect not a crisis of integration but rather the limitation of neoliberal policies and the fact that global economic structures work to maintain the pre-eminence of the US.
Cafruny, who is the Henry Platt Bristol Professor of International Affairs at Hamilton College, and his co-author render what Fred Block of the University of California, Davis, calls a "brilliant, polemical work of intellectual synthesis"-- one that those invested in the future of Europe would do well to ponder.
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