Golden Gate: The Life and Times of America's Greatest Bridge

( 2 )

Overview

Kevin’s Starr’s Golden Gate is a brilliant and passionate telling of the history of the bridge itself, and a recounting of the rich and peculiar history of the California experience. The Golden Gate is a grand public work, a symbol and a very real bridge, a magnet for both postcard photographs and suicides. In this compact but comprehensive narrative, Starr unfolds the hidden-in-plain sight meaning of the Golden Gate, putting it in its place among classic works of art.

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Golden Gate: The Life and Times of America's Greatest Bridge

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Overview

Kevin’s Starr’s Golden Gate is a brilliant and passionate telling of the history of the bridge itself, and a recounting of the rich and peculiar history of the California experience. The Golden Gate is a grand public work, a symbol and a very real bridge, a magnet for both postcard photographs and suicides. In this compact but comprehensive narrative, Starr unfolds the hidden-in-plain sight meaning of the Golden Gate, putting it in its place among classic works of art.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Starr, California state librarian emeritus and professor of history at the University of Southern California, is most famous as the author of the monumental seven-volume series on the history of California, "Americans and the California Dream." His latest book is accurately illustrated, readable, and rewarding. Detailed studies of the Golden Gate Bridge have been produced before—most notably Allen Brown's Golden Gate: Biography of a Bridge (1965) and John van der Zee's The Gate: The True Story of the Design and Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge (1986). But Starr's stellar book encompasses politics, finances, design, art, photography, film, construction, history, bibliography, and even suicide, which occurs about every other week. VERDICT This short, pithy book is highly recommended for general nonfiction readers as an exciting history of a grand architectural landmark.—Peter S. Kaufman, Boston Architectural Coll.
Kirkus Reviews
By California's foremost historian, a paean to perhaps "the most beautiful bridge ever built."Upon its completion in 1937, San Francisco's Golden Gate immediately took its place among the world's greatest engineering and architectural feats. Its distinctive Art Deco towers, landscape-friendly International Orange and dramatic setting combined for a thrilling picture, perfectly symbolizing America's Far West regional capital. The bridge had many godfathers, most prominently the city engineer who first called for its construction, the local chieftain who cleared the political path, the progressive banker who financed it and especially Joseph Strauss, the engineer/entrepreneur whose own design-"an upside-down rat trap," said one opponent-gave way to the plan created by the brilliant team of consulting engineers, designers and architects he assembled. Starr (History/Univ. of Southern California; Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance, 1950-63, 2009, etc.) discusses these and many other players, but don't look here for the thorough detail or human drama captured so memorably in David McCullough's The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge (1972). Instead, Starr sets a more delicate task, a jeweler's assessment of the Brooklyn Bridge's west coast rival. He neatly appraises the Golden Gate's every facet, attempting to judge its qualities and to convey its essence, its singular "bridgeness." The author tours the spectacular geography and recounts the history of its site, reflects on the bridge as an icon, reconstructs the vision that prompted its construction, details the political and financial obstacles overcome by its boosters, explains its design and follows the course of its building, remarks upon its central importance, functional and aesthetic, to the city, invokes the art it has inspired and muses upon the bridge's dramatic allure for those contemplating suicide-all in remarkably few pages. If occasional passages feel hurried, few essentials feel left out, and Starr's lyrical prose more than compensates for whatever's missing in this appreciation of the "global icon" he so clearly loves. In design and execution, every bit as worthy of the bridge it celebrates. Author appearances on the West Coast
T. Rees-Shapiro
…Starr eloquently retraces this industrial achievement from planning and construction up to the present day with its $6-and-up tolls…Starr writes adoringly about the bridge and all its wonderment…
—The Washington Post
Michiko Kakutani
It is when Mr. Starr turns from interpreting the bridge to recounting the story of its construction that his narrative takes off. Though it's a story told many times before…Mr. Starr does an agile job of situating the tale within the larger context of San Francisco's efforts to rebuild after the Great Earthquake of 1906 and the nation's march from the Roaring Twenties into the slough of the Great Depression.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596915343
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 7/6/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 955,398
  • Product dimensions: 8.16 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author


Kevin Starr is one of America's most celebrated historians. His many books include a magisterial seven-volume history of California ("Monumental."-Atlantic Monthly). He currently teaches at the University of Southern California.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2012

    Not really special

    Mr. Starr has a wealth of knowlege about California. He didn't really share much in this small book. He is much more interesting in person.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An insightful study of an American Icon

    Kevin Starr does an excellent job in framing this great American icon into a wonderful interdisciplinary context.. His descriptions, both detailed and poetic, serve to clearly convey a wonderful understanding and an appreciation of the development of this engineering wonder. I found his categorical (Vision, Politics, Money, Design, etc.) organization through his Table of Contents to be very useful in my understanding of the various aspects of the bridges history. The color photos were also very helpful. A descriptive map would have also been useful. I'm an engineer turned high school teacher and I often teach an Orientation to Engineering class through a study of bridge design. This a work I will recommend highly to my students. I also strongly recommend it to anyone interested in history, specifically the history of California or of Technology and Engineering. It truly is a story of the drama of human achievement.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Insight study of an American Icon

    Kevin Starr does an excellent job in framing this great American icon into a wonderful interdisciplinary context.. His descriptions, both detailed and poetic, serve to clearly convey a wonderful understanding and an appreciation of the development of this engineering wonder. I found his categorical (Vision, Politics, Money, Design, etc.) organization through his Table of Contents to be very useful in my understanding of the various aspects of the bridges history. The color photos were also very helpful. A descriptive map would have also been useful. I'm an engineer turned high school teacher and I often teach an Orientation to Engineering class through a study of bridge design. This a work I will recommend highly to my students. I also strongly recommend it to anyone interested in history, specifically the history of California or of Technology and Engineering. It truly is a story of the drama of human achievement.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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