1939: The Lost World of the Fair

The Lost World of the Fair In exhausted by a decade long depression Americans faced a brewing European conflict that would prove to be the most destructive war in history At this dark juncture a World s Fair was held in

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  • Title: 1939: The Lost World of the Fair
  • Author: David Gelernter
  • ISBN: 9780380727483
  • Page: 331
  • Format: Paperback
  • In 1939, exhausted by a decade long depression, Americans faced a brewing European conflict that would prove to be the most destructive war in history At this dark juncture, a World s Fair was held in New York City that evoked such acute hope in its promise of a glorious future that a whole generation was drawn to it and transformed by its vision People came from all oveIn 1939, exhausted by a decade long depression, Americans faced a brewing European conflict that would prove to be the most destructive war in history At this dark juncture, a World s Fair was held in New York City that evoked such acute hope in its promise of a glorious future that a whole generation was drawn to it and transformed by its vision People came from all over the world to see the fair, and it was not uncommon for many to attend ten, twenty, even thirty times There, the awed spectators gazed at a utopian world of superhighways, spacious suburbs and other technological wonders As David Gelernter brilliantly recounts in 1939, it was a future that has largely come to pass, but one that, in its realization, has drained us of the very pride and hope that were so palpable at the fair itself In 1939, Gelernter gives us a virtual reality picture of the World s Fair and the passionate feelings it still evokes in those who were there In entering that picture, we gain a clearer understanding of why our future stands in such dark contrast to the glittering utopian vision of 1939.

    One thought on “1939: The Lost World of the Fair”

    1. There are some occasions when a book is so good that it surprises you. This is the case with "1939 The Lost World of the Fair", which may very well be the most under-rated and under-appreciated history book of the past 20 years. Written by David Gelernter, MIT professor of technology and a victim of the Unibomber, this book tells the story of the 1939-1940 World's Fair in New York. Gelernter describes the enormous effort to convert the swampland in the Flushing district of Queens into a world cl [...]

    2. An intriguing look into life and American society in what are called the "High 1930s" (1935-39). The last remaining years of America's innocence in the 20th Century. An era when men always wore hats and women often wore gloves. A time of hope and optimism that persnal well-being could be found in all things material, machine and technological coming out of the ravages of the Great Depression.

    3. Excellent snapshot look at America in the depression and looking toward war overseas. Its some of the small things like working people smoking to stave off hunger that sticks in the mind.

    4. Not that impressed - I felt that his reliance on the text of one fairgoer's diary covering one day at the fair made it a rather unbalanced portrayal of 1939 and the Fair. Also, despite the very detailed descriptions of the fair in the diary, I could never get a good sense of what it was like both in the literal sense and in the feelings people had about it - I wanted more maps and photos to accompany the very pedantic explanations of how the exhibits stood in relation to one another. And the occ [...]

    5. "I actually bought the hardcover edition of this book as a gift for [my spouse] when it first came out in 1995. Yes, it’s taken me thirteen years but I finally got around to reading it. Now that I’m done, I can see why it took so long since [my spouse] warned me that the book wasn’t very good. Gelertner’s central idea is solid — presenting the 1939 New York Worlds Fair as both a straightforward history and an impressionistic, novelized view from a 'typical' visitor — but unfortunatel [...]

    6. a history book with the sweetest thread of a love story woven throughout. a beautiful, insightful book. then again, i'm pretty much obsessed with life in new york city from around the turn of the century to 1960. i like his argument that all the technologies of the future presented at the 1939 world's fair were largely realized in the 60's. and that we collectively lost something to believe in, and it sort of set us adrift. this also really made me want to go to disney world, because it's the cl [...]

    7. I really wanted this to be a 5-star book, but it just wasn't. The book did provide a fascinating look at what the world was like at that time, not only physically, but mentally - which was the best part. But the parts of the couple at the fair and his "interview" were drawn out, a bit dry and sometimes hard to follow. I also thought the whole drama with Sarah was unnecessary and distracted from the rest of the book.

    8. I'd recommend this book to read after reading Twilight at the world of tomorrow : genius, madness, murder, and the 1939 World's Fair on the brink of war by Mauro, James. The Lost World of the fair is more of a social view with a good deal of thoughts on the what else was happening, etcd the author threw in a little fictional couple to make things a bit more interesting. The couple add their views on the fair. Twilight At the World of Tomorrow was all non-fiction.

    9. This is one of the top 10 books I have ever read, notwithstanding the fact that the author is apparently something of a right-wing crank. Fantastic evocation and celebration of the culture of the 1930s, with an inventive and unexpected structural complexity.

    10. An intriguing meditation on the fundamental ways in which we are different-- and perhaps, diminished-- in comparison with the optimistic End-of-the-Depression era. A meditation on the true meanings of authority, sophistication , obligation, and the American civic religion of progress and justice, it nevertheless questions our credulous acceptance nowadays of technology as panacea. By all rights, the "lost world" of 1939 ought to have been a pessimistic one with the long economic ordeal of the de [...]

    11. Usually, if I don't like a book, I just casually put it aside, not finishing it or touching it ever again. With this one, it was a very, very deliberate act.

    12. It was pretty well, written, but I found it to be incredibly boring. I guess I'm not cultured enough to enjoy this book.

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