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Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center

Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Everything about the conception and creation of Rockefeller Center was outsized and wildly improbable. Launched in the teeth of the worst depression in American history, the most ambitious construction project since the Pyramids was the unintended result of a philanthropic gesture gone awry. But when it was finished, John D. Rockefeller Jr.'s accidental adventure redefined the very nature of New York City. In this hugely appealing book, noted journalist Daniel Okrent draws on a depth of original research and a broad grasp of subjects — money, art, politics, business, social history — to tell the story of how Rockefeller Center rose in the heart of Manhattan to become the playground/laboratory/headquarters for all the world's affairs.

Okrent's lavish cast of singular characters is a Who's Who of a glamorous age. Gertrude Vanderbilt, Otto Kahn, Henry Luce, Diego Rivera, Georgia O'Keeffe, even Benito Mussolini all play crucial, and often unexpected, roles in this saga. But at the heart of the story are four remarkable individuals: John D. Rockefeller Jr., the timid son of the world's richest man, whose greatest accomplishment turns out to be something he had never intended; his son Nelson, who launched his own imperial career by seizing control of this vast enterprise; the rude, vain, but dazzlingly creative real-estate genius John R. Todd; and Raymond Hood, a scamp, a provocateur, a drinker — and the greatest skyscraper architect America has ever known.

Brilliantly weaving together multiple narrative lines and a wealth of historic detail, Great Fortune is a vast tapestry of New York in its first flush of world-dominating wealth and power.

Review:

"Okrent delves into the history and pulls out an array of intriguing men, most of them little known, who have greater bragging rights to Rockefeller Center than the man whose name it bears." Adam Cohen, New York Times

Review:

"Great Fortune explains in a carefully researched, deft mosaic of anecdotes and personality sketches how Junior and his associates managed to build a city within a city, disdained by critics early on but eventually revered by them and the public at large." Grace Lichtenstein, The Washington Post

Review:

"That the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition began during construction in 1931 as a "modest balsam" decorated by site workers with cranberries, "garlands of paper and... a few tin cans" is just one of thousands of details... that make this magisterial account, itself seven years in the making, fascinating and immediate." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"A suitably grand, and suitably complex, history of the skyscraper that remains a symbol of all that is wondrous about New York City." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"This excellent, well-crafted book is dense with fascinating characters and history." Elaine Machleder, Library Journal

Synopsis:

In this hugely appealing book, noted journalist Okrent draws on a depth of original research and a grasp of subjects to tell the story of how Rockefeller Center rose to become the playground/laboratory/headquarters for all the world's affairs.

Synopsis:

Includes bibliographical references (p. [473]-480) and index.

About the Author

Daniel Okrent is a prizewinning journalist, a frequent television commentator, and the author of several highly acclaimed books. For many years, he was a senior editorial executive at Time Inc. and a contributor to all of the company's major magazines.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS

A Note to the Readerxiii

prologue: May 21, 1928, and September 30, 1939 1

one: The Heart of This Great City 5

two: A Commonplace Person 33

three: These Properties Will Be Greatly Increased in Value 43

four: I Chose the Latter Course 57

five: Architecture Never Lies 71

six: Tears of Joy to a Small Business Man 82

seven: I Like Having a Lot of People Against Me 99

eight: A Genius 111

nine: A Hundred Lawsuits 124

ten: Let Owen Young Do It 133

eleven: Who Designed Rockefeller Center? 145

twelve: Wondering Where ‛m Going to Get the Money 164

thirteen: Our Architects Deserve to Remain in Chains 176

fourteen: Desperate for Business 187

fifteen: Give‛Em Something Better 203

sixteen: Ruthlessness Was Just Another Word for Good Business 246

seventeen: All the Finns in Helsingfors 269

eighteen: What Do You Paint, When You Paint on a Wall? 287

nineteen: I Was Not Interested in Sitting and Listening 321

twenty: Visitors Give Him Dollars 343

twenty-one: The Snake Changing Its Skin 373

twenty-two: The Kingdom of the World 393

twenty-three: The Demand Is Almost Unbelievable 407

epilogue: 1948–2003 421

Notes 435

Bibliography 473

Acknowledgments 481

Illustration Credits 485

Index 487

Product Details

ISBN:
9780670031696
Subtitle:
The Epic of Rockefeller Center
Publisher:
Viking Adult
Author:
Okrent, Daniel
Location:
New York
Subject:
History
Subject:
Architecture
Subject:
Public, Commercial, or Industrial Buildings
Subject:
Oral history
Subject:
United States - 20th Century/Depression
Subject:
New York
Subject:
Interviews
Subject:
United States - State & Local - General
Subject:
United States - State & Local - Middle Atlantic
Subject:
General History
Edition Description:
Hardback
Series Volume:
108-32
Publication Date:
20030929
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
544
Dimensions:
9.6 x 6.5 x 1.68 in 2.06 lb

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Types
History and Social Science » Americana » New York
History and Social Science » Americana » Northeast

Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 544 pages Viking Books - English 9780670031696 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Okrent delves into the history and pulls out an array of intriguing men, most of them little known, who have greater bragging rights to Rockefeller Center than the man whose name it bears."
"Review" by , "Great Fortune explains in a carefully researched, deft mosaic of anecdotes and personality sketches how Junior and his associates managed to build a city within a city, disdained by critics early on but eventually revered by them and the public at large."
"Review" by , "That the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition began during construction in 1931 as a "modest balsam" decorated by site workers with cranberries, "garlands of paper and... a few tin cans" is just one of thousands of details... that make this magisterial account, itself seven years in the making, fascinating and immediate."
"Review" by , "A suitably grand, and suitably complex, history of the skyscraper that remains a symbol of all that is wondrous about New York City."
"Review" by , "This excellent, well-crafted book is dense with fascinating characters and history."
"Synopsis" by , In this hugely appealing book, noted journalist Okrent draws on a depth of original research and a grasp of subjects to tell the story of how Rockefeller Center rose to become the playground/laboratory/headquarters for all the world's affairs.
"Synopsis" by , Includes bibliographical references (p. [473]-480) and index.
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