Capital of the World: The Race to Host the United Nations

Charlene Mires, Author
Charlene Mires. NYU, $29.95, (307p) ISBN 978-0-8147-0794-4
Book - 978-0-8147-2386-9
Book - 328 pages - 978-0-8147-0835-4
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Most know that UN headquarters rest in midtown Manhattan overlooking the East River, but what many do not know—and what Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Mires delivers in this entertaining account—are the improbable twists and turns the organization took in settling on that location. In a refreshing turn, Mires offers insight into "a period that lies midway between the booster strategies of the nineteenth century...and the more intense place marketing and branding efforts of cities around the world in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century," keeping the story firmly focused on the efforts to determine a location while leaving the more minute details of the UN's formation for other scholars to explain. As a result we are treated to ambitious visions of a world capital tucked into South Dakota's Black Hills, or isolated Sugar Island near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The quick dissolution of plans calling for 40 to 50 square miles of land—one can hardly imagine Westchester County, New York, as home to a teeming international metropolis—to a mere parcel in New York City deftly summarizes the grand ambition and brief optimism of lasting peace that permeated existed after the end of WWII. (Mar.)
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