1939 The Lost World of the Fair Author:David Gelernter In 1939, exhausted by a decade-long depression, Americans faced a brewing European conflict that would prove to be the most destructive war in history. At this dark juncture, a World's Fair was held in New York City that evoked such acute hope in its promise of a glorious future that a whole generation was drawn to it and transformed by its ... more »vision. People came from all over the world to see the fair, and it was not uncommon for many to attend ten, twenty, even thirty times. There, the awed spectators gazed at a utopian world of superhighways, spacious suburbs and other technological wonders.
As David Gelernter brilliantly recounts in 1939, it was a future that has largely come to pass, but one that, in its realization, has drained us of the very pride and hope that were so palpable at the fair itself. In 1939, Gelernter gives us a virtual reality picture of the World's Fair and the passionate feelings it still evokes in those who were there. In entering that picture, we gain a clearer understanding of why our future stands in such dark contrast to the glittering utopian vision of 1939.« less
This book may not be everyone's cup of tea but I love to learn history through historical novels. Gelernter makes clear that even during the darkest days of the 1930s when economic hardship and the rise of dictatorships around the world so threatened the idea of a free nation, there was also great hope in a better future through technology. From television to wonder drugs, a utopia seemed within reach. Gelernter weaves exhaustive detail about the fair into his novel and at times I found it almost too much.
I now have a different perspective on the 30s and new thoughts about the dilemmas of today. Much to think about, thanks to this book.