Category Archives: Books

BrooklynFans Of Books: Tur Takes On Trump

Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History

By Katy Tur

Dey St. An imprint of William Morrow

In June of 2015, Katy Tur was living an incredible life. She was NBC News’ correspondent in London, spending weekends in France with her beau Beniot, and received an invitation from Make-A-Wish to come back to the United States.

While here, a certain man announced he was running for president in New York City in a building bearing his name, Trump Tower.

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BrooklynFans Of Books: Eric Bolling Examines “The Swamp”

The Swamp: Washington’s Murky Pool of Corruption, Cronyism, and Really Strange Creatures – and how Trump Can Drain It

By Eric Bolling

St. Martin’s Press

Former Fox News host Eric Bolling takes a look at “the swamp” of Washington D.C., by examining a dark history of the Republican and Democratic parties.

Bolling details national political scandals, high crimes and misdemeanors, and even events that should have been a blip on the radar and mushroomed into spiraling out-of-control controversies.

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BrooklynFans of Books: “Letterman, The Last Giant Of Late Night” By Zinoman

LETTERMAN, The Last Giant Of Late Night

By Jason Zinoman

Harper Collins Publishers

When it was announced recently that David Letterman was returning to television with a new series on Netflix, there was an unmistakable buzz.

That is because there really is nobody like David Letterman.

After a record 33 years as host of a late night talk show, Late Night on NBC and the Late Show on CBS, his style and the importance of what he has to say still resonates.

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BrooklynFans of Books: When New York Was “Fear City”

Fear City 

By Kim Phillips-Fein

Metropolitan Books – Henry Holt and Company

People familiar with the thriving New York City of today would be shocked to read about the city it was in the 1970s.

Kim Phillips-Fein documents that chaotic time 40 years ago in her comprehensive work, Fear City.

It was a time of rubble and broken-down buildings filling the Lower East Side, Bushwick was burning, and Williamsburg was an area filled with working-class people fighting to preserve their neighborhood services form budget cuts.

Bankers and politicians seized on the situation as evidence that social liberalism was unworkable. The city would have to drastically cut services, freeze wages, and fire thousands of workers, or face financial disaster.

Phillips-Fein lays out the battles for the soul of New York, with unions and ordinary citizens fighting against the cuts that elites desired. She details all the last-minute machinations and backroom deals that solved the fiscal crisis.

“For the residents who saw their firehouses threatened with closure, their children’s teachers laid off, and their roads going unpaved, the crisis marked a power grab by financiers who wanted to recast New York as a white-collar professional city,” she writes. “For the men who were catapulted by the events of the crisis into positions of unusual decision-making power (and the few women who joined them), the fiscal crisis was a nerve-racking but exciting time of late nights, early breakfasts, and meetings around the clock, an urgent struggle to save the city from bankruptcy against all odds. For lifelong New York politicians, it was a bewildering shift in priorities and expectations, a time when they were blamed for bankrupting the city by trying to protect services and jobs, the very things they formerly had been lauded for providing.”

One thing Fear City does that most other works on New York City in this period do not is show all the investment the city made in the prior four decades on services for their citizens.

“New York City has been at the forefront of social reform every since the early twentieth century,” writes Phillips-Fein. “Progressive reformers had pressed for housing market regulations to ensure that apartments for poor people were not dangerous firetraps. Labor organizers had won laws protecting workers on the job after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911. In the early 1930s, following the onset of the Great Depression, the city government had been plagued by fiscal problems; it was saved fro default by bankers who extended a loan and demanded service cuts. But these cuts were rolled back within a few years, when Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia was able to win funding from Franklin Delano Roosevelt – the former New York State governor occupying the White House – for a vast array of public works and social programs.

“As a result, during the postwar period New York provided a remarkable range of services to its citizens, through an extensive public sector hard to imagine today. At its peak, the city ran a network of twenty-four municipal hospitals, along with dozens of neighborhood primary care and pediatric clinics. Its health department even conducted original research into matters of public health. Over the decades, the city built numerous parks and playgrounds, elementary and secondary schools, public housing, swimming pools, college campuses, piers,highways, bridges, and airports. In the 1960s, it opened day care centers for low-income mothers and treatment centers to help drug addicts. Its sprawling library system included public research libraries that rivaled many private university collections.”

What most people know about New York City’s near-bankruptcy in 1975 can be summed up by a well-known tabloid cover.

Phillips-Fein writes, “On October 30, 1975, the New York Daily News printed the most famous headline in its history: ‘Ford to City: Drop Dead.’

“The previous day, President Gerald Ford had delivered a speech at the National Press Club in Washington on the looming bankruptcy of New York City. Once inconceivable, such a collapse fit with the climate of the time. American politics in the autumn of 1975 had taken on the qualities of a grotesque. The memory of President Nixon’s resignation in the midst of the Watergate scandal was still fresh…

“The prospect of New York City’s collapse seemed a further terrifying lurch. The leading men at the city’s biggest banks – including First National City Bank (the forerunner of Citibank), Morgan Guaranty, and Chase Manhattan had spoken out in favor of federal aid for New York. Executives from around the country had traveled to Washington to testify that if the city went under, the fragile national economy might topple as well…

“But President Ford and his closest advisers – a circle that included his chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld, and the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Alan Greenspan – strongly opposed federal help for New York. They were convinced that the city had brought its problems on itself through heedless, profligate spending. Backruptcy was thus a just punishment for its sins, a necessary lesson in how the city should change to move forward.”

The cuts imposed shrank New York City’s spending by 20 percent and affected almost every aspect of life in the city. These cuts were greeted by massive protest, as New Yorkers occupied fire stations and college campuses to defend the public services they held in high regard. While the protesters achieved some victories, the budget cuts nevertheless changed New York and today it is one of the most unequal cities in the country.

The thing about New York is that it drives the country, and eventually the world, depending on how it is doing, good and bad.

“The blows hammering New York seemed to be felt throughout the country and around the world, as the hierarchies and faiths that had ordered the postwar era were coming undone,” writes Phillips-Fein. “Only a decade earlier, the United States had seemed to extend a promise of ever-greater prosperity, mobility, and security to its citizens, a promise that their material conditions would constantly improve as time went on. This had never been fully realized, of course the progress left out many, from women to African Americans to poor people untouched by the economic growth of the postwar years. But the promise extended nonetheless. By the mid-1970s, though, it had been broken. The anticipated future of prosperity and confidence could be counted on no longer.

“So it was in New York. The old expectations had started to give way. The simpler aspects of the city’s physical infrastructure – its roads and highways – could no longer be relied on. At any moment, they might buckle, leaving nothing but a steep descent into empty air below.”

One thing that was a symbol of the golden era of public works that decayed as New York entered the ’70s is the West Side Highway.

Phillips-Fein writes of it, “When the West Side Highway first opened in 1930, it seemed to promise a glorious ‘new era of speed in motor transportation,’ in the words of the Manhattan borough president. In a city of subways, the wide elevated road opened up new possibilities for car transportation. Rising on steel archways above the busy streets of the meatpacking district, it appeared sure to last forever.

“By the early 1970s, though, the highway’s asphalt had been worn down by the vast traffic of the postwar years. The surface had eroded under the tons of salt dumped on it each winter; cars and trucks bumped over the uneven metal plates the city had used to patch the gaping spaces. The skeletal supports that held up the elevated portions of the highway were rusting, damaged by decades of rain and melting snow. Mayor John  Lindsay planned a major repair for the deteriorating structure, and construction began in the autumn of 1973. As the city’s commissioner of highways put it, ‘You can’t just fill cavities on this highway. You have to put in new teeth.’

“The work had barely started when the disaster the city feared came to pass. In December 1973, the highway simply buckled under the weight of a repair truck carrying asphalt at the intersection of Little West 12th and Gasevoort Streets in the West Village.”

The fiscal crisis of 1975 made possible the rise of Donald Trump, the current President of the United States. Twenty-nine years old at the time, the brash young developer seized on the crisis to make his first big deal in Manhattan: redeveloping the bankrupt Commodore Hotel near Grand Central Terminal with Hyatt. Because the city was in such bad shape, Trump was able to win tax breaks worth hundreds of millions of dollars. New York was desperate for revenue and eager to show that it would be friendly to business in the future.

Phillips-Fein feels that the crisis also shaped Trump’s political vision, giving him the sense that businessmen are saviors, that poor and non-white people are the ones who are sucking public resources away, which was a common myth in the crisis years; and that brave leaders ignore public and democratic protests.

The crisis limited the horizons of city politics in ways we’re living with now in cities across the country. As Mayor Bill de Blasio nears the end of his first term, he has been criticized for his “reduced vision,” as the New York Times put it. The focus on real estate development and the challenge of putting forth an ambitious agenda for cities have limited the ability of even progressive mayors to live up to what they promise voters during a campaign.

The interesting thing about the timing of this book is New York is in danger of losing federal funding for various reasons. Could it lead to another fiscal crisis and will it have ripple effect across the country?

 

BrooklynFans Of Books: “Trophy Son” Examines Tennis World

Trophy Son

By Douglas Brunt

St. Martin’s Press

The competitive world of tennis, and how young you have to think about a professional career, is explored adeptly by New York Times bestselling author Douglas Brunt in his third novel, Trophy Son.

Brunt also addresses the deeply important topic of the cost of early excellence in our achievement-obsessed society.

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BrooklynFans of Books: Joe Buck On Being A “Lucky Bastard”

Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, and the Things I’m Not Allowed to Say on TV

By Joe Buck

Dutton

Joe Buck, the face of FOX Sports as its lead announcer for Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and USGA Golf coverage, has written an entertainingly candid, self-deprecating memoir.

In Lucky Bastard, Buck writes a lot about his father, Jack, the legendary St. Louis Cardinals announcer and the impact he had on his life and career. Joe grew up sitting in the booth while Jack called Cardinals games, and started calling games himself at the age of 19.

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BrooklynFans of Books: The Euro, by Stiglitz

The Euro: How A Common Currency Threatens The Future Of Europe

Joseph E. Stiglitz

W.W. Norton & Company

Since 2010, Europe has been in economic crisis, as the 19 countries that share the euro currency have been rocked by stagnation and debt crisis.

Some countries have been in depression for years while the eurozone’s governing powers have gone from emergency to emergency, most notable in Greece.

Nobel Prize-winning economist and best-selling author Joseph E. Stiglitz examines in The Euro the causes for the endless crisis and mistakes made around the creation of the single currency. He lays bare the European Central Bank’s misguided inflation-only mandate and explains how eurozone policies, especially toward the crisis countries, have further exposed the zone’s flawed design. Continue reading BrooklynFans of Books: The Euro, by Stiglitz

BrooklynFans of Books: Ralph Terry’s Unique Place In Yankees History

Right Down the Middle

Ralph Terry with John Wooley

Mullerhaus Publishing Arts, Inc. – the book is releasing with a hard bound collectors edition,  signed and numbered limited edition.  The total is 338, one for each game Ralph started in MLB. Please follow us on Facebook “RalphTerryBaseball” or order direct a soft bound copy from Amazon.com, Prime. 

 

Ralph Terry, the top right-handed pitcher on the fabled New York Yankees teams of the early 1960s, is known for two big moments at the end of one of their many World Series.

Terry is the only pitcher to throw the final pitch in two World Series Game Sevens. He gave up the game-winning home run to Bill Mazeroski of the Pirates in 1960 and, two years later, he went the distance in the finale against the Giants to help the Yankees win the title, and was only the seventh man in history to win the World Series MVP Award in 1962.

Right Down The Middle is an inspiring story of an 18-year-old rookie from small-town Oklahoma taking the field with the likes of Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Billy Martin, Whitey Ford, and Moose Skowron while playing on the biggest baseball stage, Yankee Stadium.

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BrooklynFans of Books: “Ten Years Later” Shows Anything Is Possible

Ten Years Later 

By Lisa Marie Latino

Long Shot Publishing

We all remember what it was like to get the “save the date” for a high school or college reunion and feeling the pressure to show your classmates how far you’ve come.

Ten Years Later is the debut novel for Lisa Marie Latino, the Executive Producer of Long Shot Productions and the Production Coordinator for New York Giants radio broadcasts.

The book centers around Carla D’Agostino and her friends Dante, Katie, and Andrea, and the year leading up to their 10th anniversary high school reunion.

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BrooklynFans Of Books: “Players” By Matthew Futterman

Players

By Matthew Futterman

Simon & Schuster

People in this day and age are used to seeing Peyton Manning doing advertisements for multiple products while watching a game.

It wasn’t too long ago that athletes were not seen as endorsers, or anything beyond what they did on the field of play.

Matthew Futterman’s Players writes the story of how this changed, and says of the landscape of pro sports up until about 60 years ago, “The story of professional sports in the United States for the first eight decades of the twentieth century is largely one of exploitation. It’s a story of one-sided contracts and lopsided deals in which teams, leagues, national and international sports federations, and countless other moneyed interests who had put themselves into positions of power took advantage of athletes who were some combination of too young, too uninformed, or too uneducated to realize just how they were being used, and too unrepresented to do anything about it.”

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