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2003 non fiction book

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A compelling look back at the tragic events of July 13, 1977.

  • Dec 29, 2008
  • by
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"  these were not the best of times in the City of New York.  Crime was out of control, unemployment was high, and confidence in the political leadership of the city was extremely low.  And to make matters much worse the city was suffering the effects of debilitating heat wave.  The blackout it seems came at just the wrong time.
Using an interesting and at times dizzying writing style, Goodman has a dozen or more storylines going at any one time.  He presents the story from all sides. What was the Mayor saying and doing about this crisis?  And the suits at Con Edison....how were they responding?  What motivated those doing the looting?  And how did store owners try to protect their property?  How did the police respond and were the measures they took correct and appropriate?  And when it was all over what was reaction of community leaders, the media and the politicians?  So many questions.

In "Blackout" James Goodman has given us a remarklably thought provoking book.  I certainly enjoyed it and if you are a student of history I suspect you will as well.  Highly recommended!

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Paul Tognetti ()
Ranked #2
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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About this book


"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 ...
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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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