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Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center

Okrent, Daniel

231 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0670031690 / ISBN 13: 9780670031696
Published by Viking Press, New York, New York, U.S.A., 2003
Used Condition: As New Hardcover
From First Choice Books (Coeurd'Alene, ID, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

512pp including bibliography and index Photos Fascinating history of the buildings plan and development and all the characters involved. Bookseller Inventory # 62847

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller ...

Publisher: Viking Press, New York, New York, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 2003

Binding: Cloth Hardback

Book Condition:As New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Edition: First Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Everything about the conception and creation of Rockefeller Center was outsized and wildly improbable. Launched in the teeth of the worst depression in American history, the most ambitious construction project since the Pyramids was the unintended result of a philanthropic gesture gone awry. But when it was finished, John D. Rockefeller Jr.'s accidental adventure redefined the very nature of New York City. In this hugely appealing book, noted journalist Daniel Okrent draws on a depth of original research and a broad grasp of subjects-money, art, politics, business, social history-to tell the story of how Rockefeller Center rose in the heart of Manhattan to become the playground/laboratory/headquarters for all the world's affairs.

Okrent's lavish cast of singular characters is a Who's Who of a glamorous age. Gertrude Vanderbilt, Otto Kahn, Henry Luce, Diego Rivera, Georgia O'Keeffe, even Benito Mussolini all play crucial, and often unexpected, roles in this saga. But at the heart of the story are four remarkable individuals: John D. Rockefeller Jr., the timid son of the world's richest man, whose greatest accomplishment turns out to be something he had never intended; his son Nelson, who launched his own imperial career by seizing control of this vast enterprise; the rude, vain, but dazzlingly creative real-estate genius John R. Todd; and Raymond Hood, a scamp, a provocateur, a drinker-and the greatest skyscraper architect America has ever known. Brilliantly weaving together multiple narrative lines and a wealth of historic detail, Great Fortune is a vast tapestry of New York in its first flush of world-dominating wealth and power.

Review:

Those of us who love New York tend to love the city passionately, for its past as well as its present. Daniel Okrent's Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center is a book for New Yorkers from Ashtabula to Zimbabwe: a study of ambition, audacity, and deal-making on a grand scale that led to the construction of some of the most famous skyscrapers in the world. The cast of characters includes not only the many and diverse members of the Rockefeller family, but other powerful New York institutions such as Columbia University, the Metropolitan Opera, the Museum of Modern Art, and The New York Times--not to mention the radical Mexican artist Diego Rivera, the New Yorker cartoonist William Steig, the Marx Brothers, and a bevy of "Rockettes." Okrent's narrative neatly balances the epic and the intimate; he offers both authoritative pronouncements on modern architecture and reams of good gossip. Like New York itself, Great Fortune contains multitudes: densely packed, it remains surprisingly--and welcomingly--commodious. --Tim Page

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