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New York is not America, François Weil writes, "but what America promises, perhaps its greatest promise." It may be hard to believe, then, that the quintessential symbol of American enterprise and energy was once quite low in the political and social hierarchy. Weil takes on the New York of myth and offers a compelling chronicle of how it actually developed into a global citywhat some have called the capital of the twenty-first century. He shows how the uneasy tension between capitalism and multiculturalism has been at the heart of the city's immense physical, social, economic, and cultural transformationas well as of American notions of what urban "space" is, for whom it exists, and how it is used. The book also captures what makes the city exceptionalfrom the arts and literature to popular culture and party politicsand reveals New York as both a unique space and a model of American diversity.
About the Author
François Weil is directeur d'études and director of the Center for North American Studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He has taught at the Universities of Michigan and Virginia, and in 2003 he was the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Tulane University. He is the author of Les Franco-Américains, 1860–1980 and Naissance de l'Amérique Urbaine, 1820–1920.Jody Gladding's many translations include The Devil's Cloth (Columbia) by Michel Pastoureau and Time Passing (Columbia) by Sylviane Agacinski. She is a poet and the author of Stone Crop.
Table of Contents
I The Province 1620-1820
1. The Ocean
2. The Commencement of a Town
II Queen of the New World 1820-1890
3. The Venice of the Atlantic
4. The Empire City
III Metropolitan Modernities 1890-1940
6. Greater New York
7. The Promised City?
8. The Lights of the City
IV Capital of the American Century 1940-2000
9. The Phoenix
10. New York, New York!
What People are Saying About This
François Weil, an eminent historian, brings a brilliant trans-Atlantic perspective to this eminently readable (and clearly translated) contribution to our understanding of urban growth and transformation. He provides broad scope with no loss of intriguing detail, ranging from the business firms that propelled the booming nineteenth-century economy to the growing demand for square feet of office space in the twentieth century. Apt illustrations and impressive control of the vast literature on New York City make this a most attractive and up-to-date overview of a unique American city.
This intelligent, beautifully written, and relatively brief history of New York City is a wonderfully original synthesis of a vast body of scholarship. Its author is one of the leading European historians of the United States, and this book reflects both an insider's intimate knowledge of the city, and an outsider's ability to place New York's history in a global context.
A History of New York is a remarkable work of historical synthesis by an outstanding historian who brings a uniquely informed yet detached view to the history of the city. Grounded in serious scholarship yet quite readable, the book is generous in scope. Francois Weil is particularly strong writing about the economic history and physical development of the city, yet he explores the city's social, political, and cultural history with great skill as well.
A concise history of New York City is a singular achievement. In this remarkably clear and lucid synthesis of four centuries of urban capitalism, François Weil explores how New York City has a history that is simultaneously unique and an exemplar of American power and diversity.