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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
At the tail end of the 1920s, the Jazz Age was in full swing, and Americans experienced an unprecedented level of prosperity with no apparent end in sight. Though the Great Depression would soon wipe out many of those gains, three landmark buildings on the New York City skyline -- the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, and the Manhattan Company Building -- remain as tangible reminders of the enormous ambition and exuberance that characterized the era. Neal Bascomb expertly re-creates the stories of the men behind the building of these historic skyscrapers, all of whom were racing to make theirs the tallest in the world at the time, like 20th-century pharaohs competing for glory.
Bascomb profiles business and political leaders as Walter Chrysler, Al Smith, and FDR. But even more compelling is Bascomb's exploration of the long-simmering rivalry between William Van Allen and Craig Severance, former architectural partners who become locked in a captivating battle of deception and intrigue in order to eclipse the height of the Eiffel Tower and claim for their own creation the title of "world's tallest building." Through the fascinating biography of the buildings and the men whose singular vision and drive brought them to reality, Higher -- not unlike Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit -- ultimately tells the story of the character and the spirit of 20th-century America. (Winter/Spring 2004 Selection)