Gotham Rising: New York in the 1930s
Gotham Rising is an insightful look at what New York was like in the 1930s. Jules Stewart takes you from the Great Depression right up to the beginning of World War II, with some additional information on how New York was first formed and some of the after effects of the war. You get to learn about speakeasies, gangsters, and the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as the construction of the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The author fills you in on the stories behind these well-known sites and the people who created them.
I don’t think I would characterize this book as historical fiction. It’s written more like an enjoyable textbook. It’s very factual, and you can tell that Mr. Stewart thoroughly did his research. I was amazed that so much happened in one city in only a ten-year period. I learned some interesting facts that I didn’t know before, like that Louis Armstrong was threatened by gangsters, which is why he took his four-month tour in Europe, or that Winston Churchill was hit by a taxi as he was leaving the Waldorf-Astoria hotel because he forgot the way American roads work compared to Britain’s. Overall, this is a great book that does not seem to have any fiction in it, but it will definitely make you want to move to New York or at least appreciate the sights better.
Jules Stewart • Amor Towles, Foreword