Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America

Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America

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by Joseph Tirella
     
 

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This New York Times bestseller is a vivid account of the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York City, a spectacle that embodied the innovation, lunacy, hope, and fear of a dramatic twenty-first century decade—and one that pitted Robert Moses vs. Andy Warhol, brought the vision of Walt Disney together with the Merry Pranksters, featured an Audio-Animatronic… See more details below

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Overview

This New York Times bestseller is a vivid account of the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York City, a spectacle that embodied the innovation, lunacy, hope, and fear of a dramatic twenty-first century decade—and one that pitted Robert Moses vs. Andy Warhol, brought the vision of Walt Disney together with the Merry Pranksters, featured an Audio-Animatronic Abraham Lincoln and real-life LBJ in the midst of the Civil Rights struggle, and featured much, much more. Tomorrow-Land entertains, informs, and illustrates how the 1964-65 World’s Fair—inside its gates and just outside its gates—represents the cultural and political pivots taken by New York City, America, and the world during the 1960s.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/14/2013
In this ambitious, hectic popular history, journalist Tirella shows how various events affected the creation and success of the eponymous fair. “New York’s Machiavellian Master Builder” Robert Moses managed to be named head of the World’s Fair Corporation in 1960 and became its mastermind. His grand design was challenged along the way by Walt Disney, looking to expand his entertainment empire, and by civil rights activists unhappy with the lack of racial diversity on the fair’s board of directors and its work crews. Even popular music aficionados tried to tell Moses his business, pressuring him to hire the Beatles to perform—to which he responded: “Absolutely nothing doing.” But Moses couldn’t control everything. A civil rights protest cropped up inside the fair on its opening day and Harlem erupted in race riots that summer, interfering with fair attendance. Ken Kesey bused in his Merry Pranksters and declared the fair a flop. The press mostly agreed. The most exciting event took place near the fair, rather than at it: the Beatles’ 1965 Shea Stadium concert. In trying to ignore the culture of the 1960s to introduce fairgoers to Tomorrow-Land, Moses nearly killed his beloved fair. In attempting to pack all the major events of 1964–1965 into his book, Tirella overstuffs an otherwise intriguing story. Eight-page photo insert. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-28
The story of New York's second World's Fair in the context of its tumultuous times. Robert Moses, the city's bullish master builder who was responsible for several of its colossal bridges, tunnels, parks and parkways and who had a hand in the construction of the first World's Fair in 1939, maneuvered his way to power for the entire 1964-1965 version. His ultimate goal was to turn the fair's grounds in Flushing Meadow Park in Queens into a rival for the jewel in Manhattan's crown, Central Park. But Moses' Eisenhower-era sensibility and the park's Kennedy-esque theme of "peace through understanding" would collide with the reality of post-assassination politics and a cultural revolution in mores inspired by the underground and popular arts. Signs of troubles ahead included a threatened opening day "stall-in" on the highways leading to Flushing Meadows by local civil rights groups to protest Moses' poor record in hiring minorities to build, staff and administer the fair and a disastrous convocation speech by President Lyndon Johnson that was interrupted repeatedly by catcalls from college students, many of whom would go on to form the Students for a Democratic Society. First-time author Tirella, a former reporter for the New York Times, adroitly switches focus from Moses and the fair to external events in the city, nation and world and back again, following several disparate threads--the civil rights dialectic between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., a New York City obscenity crusade that targeted Lenny Bruce and the gay bohemian subculture, the parallel paths of the Beatles and Bob Dylan, the escalation of the Vietnam War--and never losing control of the narrative's forward momentum. With a huge cast of characters that includes Walt Disney, Andy Warhol, Muhammad Ali and the pope, the World's Fair provides an excellent perspective on the 1960s in America. Top-notch popular history.
From the Publisher
A New York Times Bestseller!"Tirella explores the contrast between the purported idealism of the 1964 World's Fair and the conflict and compromise that surrounded the event…. The Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, rising urban crime and racial strife provide the backdrop for Tirella's detailed history." —The New York Times Book Review"In an interesting and original way, Joseph Tirella has used the storied setting of the 1964–65 World's Fair in New York to describe the entrepreneurial spirit, the criminal nature, the egalitarian tendencies, and inevitable compromises that characterized a complex and important period in the history of the city and the nation." —Gay Talese, author of The Kingdom and the Power, The Bridge, and A Writer's Life"Literary lovechild of: Robert A. Caro's The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York and Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America." —Slate"Just in time for the 50th anniversary of opening day, Joseph Tirella, in this carefully detailed account, explores the fair itself and, perhaps more important, uses that extraordinary event as a lens through which to view one of the more critical junctures in American history…. [A] a fascinating trip back to what the fair's mastermind, Robert Moses, dreamed would be the "greatest single event in human history," during one of the most tumultuous periods in recent memory." —The Weekly Standard"As much a history of mid-Sixties America as it is a history of the World's Fair in Queens, New York, Joseph Tirella's entertaining and impeccably researched Tomorrow-Land brings the forces and players of that turbulent era crackling to life." —Emily Raboteau, author of Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora"With Tomorrow-Land, Joseph Tirella makes a riveting case for Queens, New York, as the origin of all that is great and modern in today's America. If you've ever wondered what Robert Moses, Andy Warhol, and Malcolm X have in common, this book connects the dots and more. Tirella breathes in all the tumult and cultural vertigo surrounding the 1964 World's Fair, and exhales an intoxicating swirl of pure possibility." —Alec Foege, author of The Tinkerers: The Amateurs, DIYers, and Inventors Who Make America Great"This book is filled with fascinating stories about global political contests between the Soviet Union and the United States, domestic protests against social inequality, the politics of massive resistance waged by conservatives of both major parties, corporations playing social engineering games, America becoming a multicultural nation, and New York City experiencing massive physical change. Joseph Tirella's Tomorrow-Land takes us back in time fifty years and documents through thorough research and wonderful narrative how the World's Fair fell short of its goal to promote, 'Peace Through Understanding,' but still managed to give America an accurate vision of its future self." —Brian Purnell, Africana Studies and History, Bowdoin College, and author of Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings: The Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn"First-time author Tirella, a former reporter for the New York Times, adroitly switches focus from [Robert] Moses and the fair to external events in the city, nation and world and back again, following several disparate threads—the civil rights dialectic between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., a New York City obscenity crusade that targeted Lenny Bruce and the gay bohemian subculture, the parallel paths of the Beatles and Bob Dylan, the escalation of the Vietnam War—and never losing control of the narrative's forward momentum…. [T]he World's Fair provides an excellent perspective on the 1960s in America…. Top-notch popular history." —Kirkus Reviews"A model of accessible narrative, showing the author's immersion in archival research, this book will be appreciated most by those who love reading about Sixties or New York City history or, of course, world's fairs." —Library Journal

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780762780358
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
01/07/2014
Pages:
360
Sales rank:
656,962
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Joseph Tirella wrote about Queens for The New York Times’s much missed City Section, and penned pieces for the paper’s Metro and Business Sections. A former Senior Editor at Fortune Small Business, his work has also appeared in Rolling Stone, Vibe, Esquire, Reader’s Digest, the New York Post, the Daily News, Portfolio.com, and MSN.com. He lives in Oakland Gardens, New York.

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