Tomorrow-Land: The 1964–65 World’s Fair and the Transformation of America

Joseph Tirella. Globe Pequot/Lyons, $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7627-8035-8
In this ambitious, hectic popular history, journalist Tirella shows how various events affected the creation and success of the eponymous fair. “New York’s Machiavellian Master Builder” Robert Moses managed to be named head of the World’s Fair Corporation in 1960 and became its mastermind. His grand design was challenged along the way by Walt Disney, looking to expand his entertainment empire, and by civil rights activists unhappy with the lack of racial diversity on the fair’s board of directors and its work crews. Even popular music aficionados tried to tell Moses his business, pressuring him to hire the Beatles to perform—to which he responded: “Absolutely nothing doing.” But Moses couldn’t control everything. A civil rights protest cropped up inside the fair on its opening day and Harlem erupted in race riots that summer, interfering with fair attendance. Ken Kesey bused in his Merry Pranksters and declared the fair a flop. The press mostly agreed. The most exciting event took place near the fair, rather than at it: the Beatles’ 1965 Shea Stadium concert. In trying to ignore the culture of the 1960s to introduce fairgoers to Tomorrow-Land, Moses nearly killed his beloved fair. In attempting to pack all the major events of 1964–1965 into his book, Tirella overstuffs an otherwise intriguing story. Eight-page photo insert. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/14/2013
Release date: 01/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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