Good Guys, Wise Guys, and Putting Up Buildings: A Life in Construction

Samuel C. Florman. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-64167-2
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From the end of the Second World War into the 21st Century, engineer and author Florman worked as a general contractor in the greater New York City area. Through his job, Florman participated in all the major development trends of his era—from suburban school building to bidding for public housing, to raising the projects of “starchitects” in the latest real-estate boom. Florman’s profession brought him in contact with a remarkably diverse range of people—Japanese POWs in the South Pacific when he was Navy Seabee, mob-linked carters in Manhattan, and the likes of Frank Gehry, Philip Johnson, and Robert Moses. For stretches the book reads like a long retirement speech. Florman looks back over a long and successful career with an engineer’s even temperament and he is careful, at times too careful, to be politic. The fact that Florman works thematically rather than chronologically also bogs down the narrative. Florman writes very little about his personal life and the most interesting chapters—like the one on the mafia—don’t involve him directly. However, he does provide a unique insider glimpse into the politics of building the most important city of the 20th century. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/23/2012
Release date: 03/13/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4299-4108-2
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