Great Fortune

Okrent, Daniel. Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center. New York: Viking, 2003.

There is something to be said about a man with a vision, especially when that vision becomes the great and unparalleled Rockefeller Center in New York City. Great Fortune captures not only the man behind the vision and the epic journey of John D. Rockefeller and his team, but the society and political arena of their era. The 1930s are the beginning of urban sprawl going vertical in the form of skyscrapers. As the buildings start reaching higher and higher they become more grandiose and complicated; as do the people responsible for this growth at such an unlikely time in history. The founders of Rockefeller Center are egotistic, artistic, ambitious visionaries. Despite being mired in the Great Depression luminaries such as architect Raymond Hood believe in the grandeur of the project with unwavering faith.

The first thing I noticed about the copy of Great Fortune that came to the library was the cover. If you aren’t looking closely you would miss it. The cover with the ISBN of 0670031690 has a collage of four photos, all in tinted black and white. A photograph of a couple dancing. Below that, a picture of the Rockettes standing in a circle. Below that, iron workers presumably working on the construction of RCA building. Along side these three photos is a larger one of the RCA building. In my copy of Great Fortune the dancing couple featured in the upper left hand corner are Mary Rae and Naldi doing a waltz in the Rainbow room…except something is different about them. They do not hold the same pose. Mary Rae and Naldi are nose to nose in my cover shot. I’m not even sure they are the same dancers. Why was this one photo swapped out for another? Curious. For an illustration of what I mean click here. Take note of the photo of the two dancers. Look at their gentle pose. Then click on the cover and see how the photo changes. The dancers become more dynamic, more passionate.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Building Blocks” (p 38).



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