Synopses & Reviews
Good Guys, Wiseguys, and Putting Up Buildings is an engaging memoir about one man's career in construction--rising to the top of an industry renowned for crime, corruption, violence, physical danger, and the chronic risk of financial catastrophe. Starting in the Navy Seabees at the end of WWII, Samuel C. Florman made his way as a general contractor in New York City through the period of explosive development, private exuberance and the historic growth of publicly supported housing--all amidst the rise of the notorious Mafia families,
and evolution of the Civil Rights Movement. His storied career brought him into contact with a variety of personalities: politicians and civil servants, developers and technocrats, saintly do-gooders and corrupt rapscallions. Along with the rousing adventures there were satisfactions of a different sort:
the enchantment of seeing architecture made real; the pride of creating housing, hospitals, schools, places of worship--shelter for the body and nourishment for the spirit.
"From the end of the Second World War into the 21st Century, engineer and author Florman worked as a general contractor in the greater New York City area. Through his job, Florman participated in all the major development trends of his era from suburban school building to bidding for public housing, to raising the projects of 'starchitects' in the latest real-estate boom. Florman's profession brought him in contact with a remarkably diverse range of people Japanese POWs in the South Pacific when he was Navy Seabee, mob-linked carters in Manhattan, and the likes of Frank Gehry, Philip Johnson, and Robert Moses. For stretches the book reads like a long retirement speech. Florman looks back over a long and successful career with an engineer's even temperament and he is careful, at times too careful, to be politic. The fact that Florman works thematically rather than chronologically also bogs down the narrative. Florman writes very little about his personal life and the most interesting chapters like the one on the mafia don't involve him directly. However, he does provide a unique insider glimpse into the politics of building the most important city of the 20th century." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reviews of THE EXISTENTIAL PLEASURES OF ENGINEERING:
"Clear, erudite, and occasionally eloquent, a useful read for engineers given to self-scrutiny and a stimulating one for the layman interested in the ancient schism between machines and men's souls."--Time
"Mr. Florman, an engineer, has a gift for prose and is, besides, a kindly, clear thinker."--The New Yorker
"Gracefully written. . .Refreshing and highly infectious enthusiasm. . .Imaginatively engineered."--The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Samuel C. Florman is the chairman of Kreisler Borg Florman General Construction Company. He has published six books and over 250 articles and has written numerous reviews for The New York Times Book Review. He has spoken at many engineering schools and discussed professional topics on television and radio.