Escape from Elba
Exiles of the New York Times
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Author Topic: American History  (Read 29492 times)
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1320 on: October 18, 2007, 04:48:35 AM »

Canby's review isn't very flattering,

http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9D0CE2D71F3AF930A15750C0A967958260

nor really captures the scope of the movie.  Geographically, there do seem to be some problems since the film was shot entirely in Mexico.
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weezo
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« Reply #1321 on: October 18, 2007, 07:52:48 AM »

Dzimas,

Thanks for sharing the review on the movie. I have no idea where I would find a copy  of it, although perhaps on Amazon (but my budget is spent for the next month). Perhaps I should look for the book instead, but it may well be out of print and out of my price range. I does sound like it could be a good basis for one of my children's stories, so worth the search for it.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1322 on: October 18, 2007, 08:27:31 AM »

The DVD is out of print and hard to come by, unless you want to plop down $90 for it at amazon marketplace.  I have this book,

http://www.amazon.com/Narrative-Cabeza-Vaca-Alvar-Nunez/dp/080326416X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-5791205-4542015?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1192709870&sr=1-1
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« Reply #1323 on: October 18, 2007, 02:59:30 PM »

Thanks, Dzimas,

I just ordered the book. It will make for a wonderful addition to the stories I write for children!

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thanatopsy
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« Reply #1324 on: October 18, 2007, 05:39:17 PM »

The Penn Central Station featured Roman columns, Corinthian waiting rooms, wide and well lit corridors, and vaulted ceilings.

''A Frenchman standing beneath the dome of the splendid waiting room sobbed aloud because such a 'beautiful affair' was 'just a railway station' ... while friends explained to him that in this commercial country commerce is idealized in art and beauty.''  Said one, it  is ''the greatest engineering scheme of the age''.  {Undoubtedly, he meant the Gilded Age!} As I mentioned before, I am just old enough to remember that great commercial palace as I was there just days before it was shut down.  Its loss  is largely attributable to public indifference and the emergence of highways and automobile transportation which made train travel far less convenient. Jonnes, however, wrongly emphasizes the Philadelphia origin of its designers and developers -- she says this is why so many NY'ers disregarded the terminal.  A thought that, to me, is largely unfounded and unsupportable.  Compare, for example, the French origin of the Statue of Liberty --- this has not in any way diminished the reverence and awe New Yorkers have for it. The destruction of the Station was a wound that NYC has not recovered from to this day.  In fact, that loss is incalculable.


ch 25, 26

But one good thing did emerge: it galvanized the preservation movement and spurred many New Yorkers (myself included) to fight in order to protect the Grand Central Station in 1970.  Moreover, it spurred many people to preserve other cultural icons.  The preservation of these icons enhance the quality of life and heighten civic pride.  And that is something we can all be thankful for.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2007, 05:43:18 PM by thanatopsy » Logged

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« Reply #1325 on: October 18, 2007, 06:02:18 PM »

The first issue we discussed about Jonnes why, why call it the Gilded Age?  After reading the book, a good case can be made for why this designation by the writer is warranted.

As in the Golden Era of capitalist expansion, contrary to the notion that these elites succeeded exclusively through dint of hard work, the elites succeeded because they were ruthless, cunning, persuasive in their dealings with politicians, granted seemingly endless rebates and subsidies, disregarded workers rights and well being, exploitative, backbiting, and corrupt.  Without the social engineering conducted by the combination of capitalists and politicians, the ventures they engaged in would never have succeeded. Jonnes reports that many workers died or were disabled by the horrid work conditions they were subjected to. Many died in other industrial disasters. Then, after many years of profiting from the exploitation they committed, the ruthless elites created charitable organizations to mask their cruelties. Therefore, the writer was quite correct by calling this the Gilded Age.

After many decades, the highway lobbies garnered the subsidization that was handed to the railroad owners of the past.  Ultimately, this led to the decline of the railroad industry.  Again, without those government handouts, business expansion simply would not take place.  Give that money to the poor who need it, and it is called welfare.  Give it to the wealthy who do not need it, and it's called subsidization and ''justified'' endlessly.

The distinguished Lewis Mumford objected to additions to the Station.  Ironically, he felt that ''the only consolation ... is that nothing more that can be done to the station will do any further harm to it.'' {p 309}  How wrong he was as the quest for profits will possibly mean the loss of priceless icons or the peace of the world as we are witnessing today in Iraq.  Unless and until we are willing to awaken from our slumber, these unhappy events are bound to happen again.  But as Hegel said many years ago, history teaches that mankind learns nothing from history.
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« Reply #1326 on: October 18, 2007, 07:00:50 PM »

thanatopsy,
here's an example:

http://www.nukefree.org/
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1327 on: October 19, 2007, 04:06:24 AM »

The first issue we discussed about Jonnes why, why call it the Gilded Age?  After reading the book, a good case can be made for why this designation by the writer is warranted.

As in the Golden Era of capitalist expansion, contrary to the notion that these elites succeeded exclusively through dint of hard work, the elites succeeded because they were ruthless, cunning, persuasive in their dealings with politicians, granted seemingly endless rebates and subsidies, disregarded workers rights and well being, exploitative, backbiting, and corrupt.  Without the social engineering conducted by the combination of capitalists and politicians, the ventures they engaged in would never have succeeded. Jonnes reports that many workers died or were disabled by the horrid work conditions they were subjected to. Many died in other industrial disasters. Then, after many years of profiting from the exploitation they committed, the ruthless elites created charitable organizations to mask their cruelties. Therefore, the writer was quite correct by calling this the Gilded Age.

After many decades, the highway lobbies garnered the subsidization that was handed to the railroad owners of the past.  Ultimately, this led to the decline of the railroad industry.  Again, without those government handouts, business expansion simply would not take place.  Give that money to the poor who need it, and it is called welfare.  Give it to the wealthy who do not need it, and it's called subsidization and ''justified'' endlessly.

The distinguished Lewis Mumford objected to additions to the Station.  Ironically, he felt that ''the only consolation ... is that nothing more that can be done to the station will do any further harm to it.'' {p 309}  How wrong he was as the quest for profits will possibly mean the loss of priceless icons or the peace of the world as we are witnessing today in Iraq.  Unless and until we are willing to awaken from our slumber, these unhappy events are bound to happen again.  But as Hegel said many years ago, history teaches that mankind learns nothing from history.

Maybe we should read The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York,

http://www.amazon.com/Power-Broker-Robert-Moses-Fall/dp/0394720245/ref=sr_1_1/105-5791205-4542015?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1192781038&sr=1-1

But then think of all the buildings that were torn down to make way for the Penn Station.  Lives torn asunder, not to mention lives lost in the making of these tunnels and station.  Seems fitting in a way that Penn Station was torn down to make way for freeways, ushering in a new modern era.


« Last Edit: October 19, 2007, 04:32:33 AM by Dzimas » Logged
thanatopsy
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« Reply #1328 on: October 19, 2007, 08:00:06 AM »

A good subject, indeed.  But the book is awfully long and reading it would be very time consuming.

If, however, the group agrees to reading it, I'll do so.
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« Reply #1329 on: October 19, 2007, 07:21:34 PM »

Dzimas:

I think POWER BROKER would be a fine selection, but it might be too long for most readers--but lets  see if we get other takers.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1330 on: October 20, 2007, 03:43:13 AM »

Well, I hope we can get something going on Conquering Gotham first.  We haven't exhausted the subject, to say the least.  I have to admit it was a rather dry book, maybe that's why we are having such a hard time getting anything going here.
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Bob
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« Reply #1331 on: October 20, 2007, 06:04:36 AM »

Quote
Said one, it  is ''the greatest engineering scheme of the age''.  Undoubtedly, he meant the Gilded Age!

People don't know what age they're living in, only "ages" they or others might have lived through.

That's a petty issue...I agree wth Dzimas that its been hard to get things off the ground with the book in general. Somehow I have  this idea that the author thought of writing abook which had the impact of McCullough's THE BRIDGE, but McCullough's writing style is unique--he really has a knack of story-telling and its hard to duplicate it. In his hands this book would have been really dynamic.

One issue we might discuss is working conditions and death rates in building major projects in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In one of the articles  from the New York Times I posted on above, the president of the trolley company mentions the absence of death by "electrolysis"  on his project. Wasn't that rather unusual? In building both the Brooklyn Bridge and I assume in building the tunnel for the PRR the death rate had to be at least moderately high. Another  thing for discussion is the influence of Stanford White and Charles McKim--and the influence of Roosevelt on the project (or lack thereof). lastly, we might explore the PRR itself, a much neglected subject overshadowed by guys like JP Morgan and Andrew Carnegie, but the PRR was  at the time the world's largest corporation,very powerful and just as corrupt as the rest of them though Cassat tried to clean up their act. The interactions and associations between Casssat and Carnegie and Tom Scott and Carnegie would make a fascinating discussion.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1332 on: October 20, 2007, 12:39:37 PM »

As I remember, Jonnes said the papers inflated the death toll, but there was no really accurate count taken.  She implied that PRR took every safety precaution possible at the time, which may very well have been the case.  Nevertheless, it was extremely dangerous work, and so there were a number of deaths associated with the project.  For some reason, 14 sticks out in my mind as that recorded by PRR, which would be very low if that were true, but she also said it was difficult to guage since a large number of workers simply disappeared after coming down with the bends, and PRR was relying on a steady flow of immigrant labor to make up for the shortfall. 
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #1333 on: October 20, 2007, 07:08:38 PM »

A thought occurred to me as I read of those casualties and costs: Jonnes should have presented graphs showing the cost both in money expended and lives lost. Figures are thrown about but no concrete totals  are presented so that the reader is not given a clue as to the actual cost. At the end of the book she reported that a statue was made of Cassatt to commemorate his work but none was made to honor the lost laborers to the great shame of the PRR.
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« Reply #1334 on: October 22, 2007, 08:13:28 PM »

I looked for casualty figures and could find a specific number, but  14 seem,s awfully low to me given the  conditions under which these guys worked and the lack of absence of medical knowhow in attempts to save lives  after accidents. On page 194, though, there's a section where Jonnes is speaking of the horrors of the bends. She remarks that  so many of the men were immigrants who knew little or no English
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  "that the longtime sandhogs knew little of the fate of the afflicted. How many men had been felled  with bends in the three daily shifts? How many crippled? Dead? No one knew, but as the sandhoghs sat in their air locks, they traded dark rumors of far too many  among their ranks disabled and dead."

I think  disablement was probably not rare and death very much higher than 14. However, I would not on my own try to estimate the number on my own. Maybe I'll track down Jill Jonne's e-mail address and see if I can get an answer from her.
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