Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius. Madness. Murder. and the 1939 World's Fair on the Brink of War
Booklist Reviews 2010 July #1
The subtitle of this in-depth examination of the 1939–40 World's Fair in New York is somewhat misleading as it suggests too much similarity to to Erik Larson's Devil in the White City, in which Daniel Burnham's architectural plans for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago were juxtaposed with the murderous plots carried out by Dr. H. H. Holmes. What happened in Flushing Meadows, New York, is still tragic but tame by contrast: a Fourth of July bombing that resulted in the deaths of two NYPD detectives. Still, Maro's intensively researched history of what led up to the fair and the fair itself provides a revealing window onto the Depression and prewar America in general. The text includes a intriguing cameo by Albert Einstein, who was a visitor at the fair. Absorbing history but hardly a match for The Devil in the White City. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2010 May #1
Mauro, a former editor of Spy magazine, artfully explains how a mountain of garbage in a desolate area of New York City was transformed into the site of the 1939 World's Fair in spite of the plagues of extreme weather, cost overruns, missed deadlines, labor union problems, and even sabotage, not to mention the looming threat of war. With almost 45 million visitors during its two-year duration, it lost money continually up until it closed, foreshadowing the identical fate 24 years later of the 1964 World's Fair in the same location. While much of this history is already well known, Mauro does shed light on lesser-known aspects of the fair, including Albert Einstein's involvement with it and the terrible bombing that took place there on July 4, 1940, unsolved to this day, killing two New York City police detectives. More subjectively, the author briefly ponders the rhetorical question concerning the success of a fair whose original goal of promoting scientific progress in a futuristic setting was possibly compromised by the "selling" of gadgetry and gimmickry in a tawdry carnival-like atmosphere. VERDICT Enriched by many firsthand reminiscences, this rousingly good story about the origins and aftermath of the 1939 World's Fair will delight students of American cultural history. Highly recommended.—Richard Drezen, Brooklyn, NY[Page 83]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
PW Reviews 2010 April #1
Former Cosmopolitan executive editor Mauro tries to underscore the irony of the 1939–1940 New York World's Fair, with its theme of world unity, opening on the brink of world war. But Mauro has multiple narratives, moving erratically between the evolution of the fair, with its slogan "Building the World of Tomorrow"; war brewing in Europe; and Germany gobbling up territory (Hitler refused the invitation to have a pavilion at the fair). As, one by one, European nations closed their pavilions, due to the war, the fair's theme rang increasingly hollow. During the fair's run, Einstein famously wrote to President Roosevelt expressing concern over Germany's stockpiling of uranium, giving rise to the Manhattan Project. To this unwieldy narrative Mauro adds the story of two NYPD bomb squad detectives killed when a bomb detonated on the fairgrounds on July 4, 1940. Aiming for another Devil in the White City, Mauro fails to pull all his threads together coherently, falling short of the mark. Photos. (July)[Page 54]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.