Cities of Ambition

Our July book order is in! July is a strong month for summer reads and literary fiction, but there are some robust nonfiction books hitting the shelves as well for inquiring readers. We’ve just added three new publications centering on iconic American cities–Chicago, Washington D.C., and New York–to the Community Library collection.

City of Ambition

City of Ambition: FDR, La Guardia, and the Making of Modern New York by Mason B. Williams is a strong historical study of Depression era New York and how the partnership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Fiorello LaGuardia laid down the infrastructure of the modern city in the midst of economic crisis. The story of political and personal collaboration in both peace and wartime emergency conditions illustrates a strong lesson in the politics of the possible.

This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral–Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!–In America’s Gilded Capital by Mark Leibovich, chief national correspondent for the New York Times Magazine, comes out in mid-July. Leibovich’s book is in sharp contrast to Williams’ history–it centers more on the comedically dysfunctional aspects of the labyrinthine political networks entwined in modern Washington, D.C. His exploration of the social links that tie the media and power brokers of the Capitol together is peppered with stinging observations about influence peddling, conflict of interest, and social graft. The chapter ‘The Entourage’ is headed with a quote by Eric Hoffer–“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” There is not a lot about the architectural roots and buildings of Washington D.C. in This Town, though, as Gore Vidal’s grandfather, Senator Thomas P. Gore said, “They will make wonderful ruins.”

the third coast

The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream by native Thomas Dyja delves deeply into every layer of his city as it transformed itself from the chaos of the Depression and post-war boom through the heyday of the Daley Machine during 1960 election of John F. Kennedy. Dyja’s account celebrates the renaissance of cultural influences surrounding the city’s turbulent growth, from Louis Sullivan to Frank Daley, Muddy Waters to Sun Ra, Nelson Algren to Studs Terkel, Kukla, Fran and Ollie to Second City. Maps locate the Stockyards, The Macomba Lounge, the first McDonalds, Chess Records, the School of Design, and the Playboy Club. The book fuses art, architecture, music and politics in a crackerjack study of Chicago’s indelible influence on the American Dream.

Next month marks the release of award-winning writer Amit Chaudhuri’s new book, Calcutta, presenting a deep cultural contrast to American cities. Chaudhuri’s work is a blend of memoir and history, and pairs well with Katherine Boo’s study on Mumbai, Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Or, if your reading tastes take you in a wilder direction, our Development Director Colleen Crain highly recommends a new and transformative memoir and travelogue exploring quite a different kind of city and terrain, To the Moon and Timbuktu by Nina Sovich.

Read with ambition, at The Community Library!

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What a coincidence, I just started rereading Studs Terkle’s “Working”. What a wonderful example of oral history, which became theatre and then film. His roots were deep in the early 20th century, Chicago.

  2. Great highlights for the Library’s collection, Cathy!


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