Morris's 'moment in time' approach is a great idea...but perhaps not her best book,
This review is from: Manhattan '45 (Paperback)
I'm just reading this for the second time now and with some disappointment. While JM's 'moment in time' approach -- Manhattan at the pinnacle of its post-war glory, as the first US troops sail back to New York on board the Queen Mary -- is a superb idea, the book has something of an air of haste about it. It doesn't skimp, exactly, but it is a fleeting, impressionistic view of Manhattan.
Of course it's beautifully written -- JM is incapable of writing a duff sentence -- but it doesn't have quite the stately depth and breadth of her masterpiece, the Pax Britannica trilogy.
Morris is an essentially romantic writer and at her best working a vast canvas. In this sense one might almost call her 'Victorian' and perhaps for this reason the three volume imperial history will remain her towering achievement.
Reading it for the second time I was amazed at how little I had retained -- one detail, in fact: the little nugget explaining that in 1945 the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel still had its own railway siding running beneath the building to which guests arriving in Manhattan on their own private trains could be diverted.
Interestingly, it seems that JM may be over-romanticising here. A recent BBC video item suggests that the 'secret' platform had only one user, in fact: President Franklin D Roosevelt -- who, along with guests and luxury automobile could drive straight off his train onto the platform and into a lift that would whisk him, car and all, into the Waldorf....
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Initial post: 31 Oct 2013 15:30:20 GMT
Not to be rude but none of the previous posters, that I could make out, had ever lived in Manhattan ... the most outrageously fabulous city on earth. Never before has so much of mankind been crammed into such a small place .... and done so well. I'm an American who has lived in the English countryside for 24 years (and have loved it!) but I lived in Manhattan for 14 years before I came to the UK. Ms Morris' evocation of those wonderful years in the 1940s ..... the old places, the sights, the smells, the characters, the attitudes, the feeling of positivity and American exceptionalism was just wonderful. I would recommend this book to anyone who has had even the briefest love affair with that small island.
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