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"Riveting . . . An engrossing, street-level recounting and ambivalent ode to a great city."--Jamie Berger, San Francisco Chronicle

On July 13, 1977, there was a blackout in New York City. With the dark came excitement, adventure, and fright in subway tunnels, office towers, busy intersections, high-rise stairwells, hotel lobbies, elevators, and hospitals. There was revelry in bars and restaurants, music and dancing in the streets. On block after block, men and women proved themselves heroes by helping neighbors and strangers make it through the night.

Unfortunately, there was also widespread looting, vandalism, and arson. Even before police restored order, people began to ask and argue about why. Why did people do what they did when the lights went out? The argument raged for weeks but it was just like the night: lots of heat, little light-a shouting match between those who held fast to one explanation and those who held fast to another.

James Goodman cuts between accidents, encounters, conversations, exchanges, and arguments to re-create that night and its aftermath in a dizzying accumulation of detail. Rejecting simple dichotomies and one-dimensional explanations for why people act as they do in moments of conflict and crisis, Goodman illuminates attitudes, ideas, and experiences that have been lost in facile generalizations and analyses. Journalistic re-creation at its most exciting, Blackout provides a whirlwind tour of 1970s New York and a challenge to conventional thinking.
James Goodman is a professor of history at Rutgers University and the author of Stories of Scottsboro, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Manhattan.
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ISBN-10:  0865476586
ISBN-13:  978-0865476585
Author:  James Goodman
Genre:  History
Publisher:  North Point Press
Date Published:  December 12, 2003
Format:  Hardcover
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review by . December 29, 2008
It has been more than three decades since that fateful night.  Most folks have long since forgotten all about it.  But the New York City blackout of 1977 is an event worth remembering.  Who or what was the real cause of the blackout?  And what prompted some people in a number of neighborhoods around the city to engage in looting, vandalism and arson that would in the end destroy over 2000 stores citywide?       As author James Goodman points out in "Blackout"&n …
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