America, 1908 : The Dawn of Flight, the Race to the Pole, the Invention of the Model T and the Making of a Modern Nation
The 2005 Ashes series was the most eagerly anticipated for decades. Not since 1989 had the famous urn left the hands of the all-conquering Australians, and with England in the ascendant after a string of Test successes, hopes were high that the balance of power in world cricket would at last shift.
The series did not disappoint. From the rip-roaring first day at Lord's, with seventeen wickets falling, it was clear we were in for something special. Although the visitors went onto win that match England bounced back with a spectacular win at Edgbaston, and further nailbiting finishes followed at Old Trafford, Trent Bridge and The Oval. In this sparkling account of an amazing summer, England's coach Duncan Fletcher reveals the strategies, the stresses and successes of one of the greatest series in the history of the game.
Former Vanity Fair contributing editor Rasenberger (High Steel) provides an entertaining survey of 366 distant American days (1908 was a leap year). As the author admits, history does not fit neatly into 12-month segments, and Rasenberger frequently has to reach for benchmarks. Yes, during 1908, Henry Ford introduced the Model-T: the first affordable automobile. However, he'd actually invented the horseless buggy years before. These quibbles aside, what a difference a century makes, and how easy the confidence of 1908 looks by contrast with today. The imperially ambitious Theodore Roosevelt was president, and the world seemed ripe for redemption through American innovation, exploration and colonization. All righteous patriots applauded as TR dispatched his Great White Fleet on a Friendship Cruise round the world, to show off American might. Yet, as Rasenberger shows, a different reality lurked behind the red, white and blue banners. That same year, anarchist Selig Silverstein exploded a bomb in New York City, and throughout the South blacks died at the ends of nooses hoisted by lynch mobs. Rasenberger renders 1908 as a series of snapshots, and his camera never blinks. 44 b&w illus. (Nov.)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
November 05, 2007
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from America, 1908 by Jim Rasenberger
The Boy and the Machine
New Year's Day
Anything, everything, is possible.
-- Thomas Edison, 1908
On the cool, fine afternoon of January 1, 1908, a sixteen-year-old boy named Terrance Kego -- or Tego, as several brief accounts had it in the next day's papers -- stepped onto his bicycle at his home on West 131st Street and began pedaling down Amsterdam Avenue in the direction of Central Park. Other than his address and his occupation as a clerk, few details about the boy survive. A few more, though, can be surmised.
As he started down the wide avenue, descending from Harlem Heights to the valley at 125th Street, he would have passed through a sloping neighborhood of row houses and low apartment buildings occupied by working-class families. Because today was a holiday, and because the weather was pleasant, some of the families would have been out on the avenue, strolling the bluff above the river. Young children would have turned to watch Terrance glide by on his bicycle, hunched over his handlebars, cap pulled low on his head, wind pulling at the tail of his coat. Perhaps a few flecks of confetti escaped from the furls of his coat and fluttered out behind him like tiny bright moths.
Certainly Terrance had gone out to greet the New Year the previous evening. What sixteen-year-old boy could have resisted the tug of the street? He may have joined the swollen tide of revelers on 125th Street, where the festivities had continued, with occasional interruptions from the police, until nearly dawn. Or more likely, being a self-supporting and spirited adolescent -- the kind of go-getter, according to the next day's New York World, who had made a New Year's vow to "take no one's dust when on his bicycle" -- he'd traveled downtown to Forty-second Street to cast himself into that great cauldron of humanity that was Times Square on New Year's Eve.
Only a few years earlier, well within Terrance's young memory, New Year's Eve had been a quiet and civilized affair spent at home or on the streets of lower Broadway, where the chimes of Trinity Church rang harmoniously at midnight. These last several years, though, it had metamorphosed into something entirely different -- more like an election night bacchanalia, with a bit of Independence Day bumptiousness thrown in, plus some frantic energy all its own. The chimes still rang at the old church downtown, but the action was uptown now, and its pulsating center was right here at the nonsectarian intersection of Broadway and Forty-second street.
Arriving in Times Square, Terrance would have climbed directly into a press of bodies and a blizzard of confetti swirling under the dazzling lights of Broadway. The streets had been filling since early in the evening, tens of thousands of bodies funneling in from Union Square and the Flatiron district, from the Tenderloin, still others from the outer boroughs by streetcar or subway or ferry. "An acrobat could hardly have managed to fall down for a wager, so tightly did the people hold each other up," reported the next day's New York Evening Sun. A special correspondent for the Chicago Daily Tribune judged the noise in Times Square to be more varied than in previous years. "Slide trombones that yowled like a cat in torture, a combination of cowbells and street car gongs, tin horns with a double register, sections of iron pipe that could be rasped with files till they gave forth bellows that carried for blocks," were a few of the sounds the correspondent recorded. Shouts and squeals blended with these other sounds to create, as the New York Tribune put it, a "terrifying reverberation."
To step into that crowd was to release all sense of direction and decorum. It moved as an organic, unruly mass, drifting, lulling, then surging spasmodically. A sixteen-year-old boy on the last night of 1907 would have been astonished to find himself squeezed in among so many strangers; or, more to the point, among so many young women. While the usual distaff armor -- overcoats, ankle-length skirts, petticoats, shirtwaists, steel-plated corsets, undergarments -- did its job of keeping feminine flesh secured, the rules of Victorian modesty lapsed that night. Men and women ground against each other indiscriminately.