The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City: Spectacle and Assassination at the 1901 World’s Fair

Margaret Creighton. Norton, $28.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-393-24750-3
The 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., is primarily remembered for being the site of President William McKinley’s assassination by anarchist Leon Czolgosz, but there were many other notable moments during its five-month existence. In this engrossing study, Creighton (Colors of Courage), a professor of history at Bates College, chronicles the ups and downs of the colorful, fanciful, beleaguered fair, showing how it reflected the changing attitudes, social dynamics, cultural conflicts, and technological advances of the early 20th century. “They staged a spectacle of development,” he writes, “where, at every turn, they taught fairgoers about which sort of humans had advanced, and which had not.” It’s easy to read the story presented and see racism, sexism, and American-centric arrogance as defining that era, but Creighton skillfully maintains objectivity, showing the good and the bad, the fair’s pageantry as well as its seedy underbelly. Creighton sheds light on McKinley’s assassination, the midway’s tawdry animal acts, stunts involving barrels over Niagara Falls, and the Exposition’s final moments, skillfully depicting the “Rainbow City” where “the rich and powerful, the poor and the desperate, the human and the animal, and the natural world, in all its fragile fury, met in dynamic alchemy.” Agent: Jennifer Lyons, Jennifer Lyons Literary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/22/2016
Release date: 10/18/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-68168-248-8
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-393-24751-0
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-393-35479-9
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