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Here is New York [Hardcover]

E.B. White , Roger Angell
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 1 2000
Perceptive, funny, and nostalgic, E.B. White's stroll around Manhattan remains the quintessential love letter to the city, written by one of America's foremost literary figures. The New York Times has named Here is New York one of the ten best books ever written about the metropolis, and The New Yorker calls it "the wittiest essay, and one of the most perceptive, ever done on the city.

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"On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy." So begins E.B. White's classic meditation on that noisiest, most public of American cities. Written during the summer of 1948, well after the author and editor had taken up permanent residence in Maine, Here Is New York is a fond glance back at the city of his youth, when White was one of the "young worshipful beginners" who give New York its passionate character. It's also a tribute to the sheer implausibility of the place--the tangled infrastructure, the teeming humanity, the dearth of air and light. Much has changed since White wrote this essay, yet in a city "both changeless and changing" there are things here that will doubtless ring equally true 100 years from now. To wit, "New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience--if they did they would live elsewhere."

Anyone who's ever cherished his essays--or even Charlotte's Web--knows that White is the most elegant of all possible stylists. There's not a sentence here that does not make itself felt right down to the reader's very bones. What would the author make of Giuliani's New York? Or of Times Square, Disney-style? It's hard to say for sure. But not even Planet Hollywood could ruin White's abiding sense of wonder: "The city is like poetry: it compresses all life ... into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines." This lovely new edition marks the 100th anniversary of E.B. White's birth--cause for celebration indeed. --Mary Park


"Just to dip into this miraculous essay—to experience the wonderful lightness and momentum of its prose, its supremely casual air and surprisingly tight knit—is to find oneself going ahead and rereading it all.White’s homage feels as fresh as fifty years ago." —John Updike

“New York was the most exciting, most civilized, most congenial city in the world when this book was written. It’s the finest portrait ever painted of the city at the height of its glory.”—Russell Baker

“The wittiest essay, and one of the most perceptive, ever done on the city.”—The New Yorker

 “Part reverie, part lament and part exultation, the essay has long been recommended by Manhattanophiles as the best sketch ever drawn of the place. But since September 11, 2002, several sentences near the end—sentences 55 years old—resound with a prescience so eerie they bear repeating. 'The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible,' White writes. 'A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now: in the sound of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest edition.'”—The Los Angeles Times

“… a masterpiece of travel writing. This edition contains an introduction by White's stepson, Roger Angell, himself a longtime New Yorker writer and the author of a number of best-selling books about baseball. After Sept. 11, readers will find this book touching, and prescient, in striking ways. Consider this paragraph: 'All dwellers in cities must live with the stubborn fact of annihilation; in New York the fact is somewhat more concentrated because of the concentration of the city itself, and because, of all targets, New York has a certain clear priority. In the mind of whatever perverted dreamer might loose the lightning, New York must hold a steady, irresistible charm.' The charm isn't just the city. It is also the utterly perfect prose of E.B. White.”—Lousiville Courier-Journal

“White epitomized the lucid and penetrating essayistic voice so treasured at the New Yorker, an impeccable style employed to powerful effect in this exquisitely precise contemplation of the New York City of his youth, and, by extrapolation, of humankind at large. Written in 1948, this witty and perceptive praise song to New York is a classic.”
Booklist, February 1, 2004

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars No one should come to NYC to live .... Feb. 9 2004
By momazon
... unless he is willing to be lucky.
NYC, notes E.B. White, is neither a state capital nor a national capital, but a capital of the world.
Written in June 1948, White captures the essence of new York which does not change, and not the minute details which he acknowledges will change many times over within minutes. "To bring New York down to date", he writes, "a man would have to be published with the speed of light --- and not even Harper's is that quick."
White writes how, more so than the natives and commuters, newcomers to New York is what gives the city her passion. How at any given location, one is near a site where someting that would make front-page news in a small town is a foonote in this teeming city where big things happen every day. How NYC is amazing because it does not have enough air and light yet nevertheless its population increases and survives. How the city is tolerant because the incredible diversity and international community it hosts would be a radioactive powder keg if it didn't. Why else is the United Nations headquartered there?
Perhaps what is most amazing is in 1948, White wrote "The subtlest chang in New York is somthing people don't speak much about but that is in everyone's mind ... a single flight of planes no bigger thana wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions." The city is both the perfect target and the perfect demonstration of nonviolence, he says. This is why it is a capital of the world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars None better than E.B. White Jan. 20 2004
Prompted by his son-in-law to return to New York City to write a magazine article, E.B. White wound up writing one of the most elegant, compact and poignant books on the subject. And although White rhapsodized about the New York of youth, and was a little saddened by the New York he was revisiting in the mid-40s, there is no doubting his love and fascination with Gotham. His descriptions of a walk through The Park in the evening, the sounds of ships' horns in the distance, and the comings and goings of commuters are especially provocative.
One of the central theses of this little tome is that so much of the destinies of New Yorkers are measured in inches. He describes how everyday New Yorkers can wind up inches away from a celebrity at a luncheonette, and that at any time you can be as close to or as distant from any significant event or person. He describes the fate of one New Yorker who was crushed by a falling piece of masonry from an old building. If that person had been six inches away in any direction on the sidewalk, that person would've gone on living. A matter of inches.
And so it is with this slender volume, which is not even a half- inch thick. And yet it, like the crowded little island of Manhattan, is filled with so much richness, humanity, and life that it draws you in like a supermagnet. And only E.B. White could have pulled off something as beautiful as this book. Buy it, read it.
Rocco Dormarunno, author of The Five Points.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A gem Nov. 10 2003
Like the Elements of Style, the timeless writing manifesto that White revised and rewrote for generation after generation of scribes, Here is New York has lasting appeal.
White captures a very large city in a very small book. Yet the end this slender volume is as satisfying as a weighty tome because White seems to get the philosophy of New York right.
And I must agree, the final pages seem to eerily fortell September 11, 2001.
If you already love New York, or if you want to know why so many do, pick this baby up and guarantee yourself a good night's reading.
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Every word E.B. white chose was the perfect word. It's one of those cases where I don't think ANYONE could have said it better. I lived in NYC from '94 - 2002 and I found that White truly got to the heart of what makes NYC and it's people so special and unique and enduring no matter what befalls. It was a great reminder that the heart of the city will live on no matter who - in this life or the next - attempts otherwise.
It was a great piece of writing, and chillingly prescient at the end given 9/11. In fact it was so ironic, I thought I'd missed a change in the author and/or era it was written. E.B. appears to be the new George Orwell.
In any case, I intend to read everything E.B.'s ever written! Even Charlotte's Web again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars like a bullet---short,powerful,to the point Jan. 13 2002
White wrote this essay after he had left New York.Returning briefly,he wrote it for a new travel magazine.It is the gift to give a New Yorker.It is chilling in its prediction(it was written in 1948)that the skyline of New York is irresistible to a madman with a mad point,but equally uplifting in its description of determination overcoming loss.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting with some irony Jan. 10 2002
By Mari
I recieved this book for Christmas and I found this book very much to my liking. I love New York, and I plan to move from this small, country town someday and move there, this book has truly motivated me to do so. E.B. White describes New York so well, I feel I am there. Learning about New Yorks past is very interesting. Though I found something terribly ironic on page 54 about the destruction of New York City. I was wondering if anyone else that has read the book picked up on it? And, if so, do you understand or even believe that this was written? It is remarkable, not a good remarkable, but more like strange that this was written 51 years before September 11. If anyone else has noticed this please respond. Thanks, and read thsi book, its a must if you love New York and History and even E.B. White, I totally recommend it, its very clear, descriptive and a fast read.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Truman Capoteish, in a Way
This short piece reads rather like some ultra-simplistic pieces I've read from Truman Capote's legendary hand. Read more
Published on Nov. 10 2001 by Kent
4.0 out of 5 stars A NOSTALGIC LOOK AT THE "BIG APPLE"
Anyone who has ever read the children's book, "Charlotte's Web" will know what a fine and accomplished writing style E. B. White possesses. Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2001 by Sandra D. Peters
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncanny!
I just finished this essay on Saturday night. You must read it. It is one of the best descriptions of NYC. Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars New York City in 1949, by the author of Charlotte's Web
If you have not discovered this gem in the past, you absolutely must read it now. E.B. White was extremely prophetic in light of the recent tragedy in New York City. Read more
Published on Sept. 25 2001 by Krista H. Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse of old New York, inspiring for today's readers
I've loved E.B.White's writing ever since a grade school teacher read Charlotte's Web aloud to the class, chapter by chapter. Read more
Published on Sept. 24 2001 by K. Corn
5.0 out of 5 stars Past is Prologue
This book, really an expanded essay, should be required reading for the nation... White's words put a poignantly human face on the city's people. Read more
Published on Sept. 22 2001 by Tedlefdes
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love New York -- Great Gift for New Yorkers Over 70!
No one could say, "I Love New York," better than E.B. White did in this slim volume of stylish, moving caresses for her lovely, loving face. Read more
Published on Oct. 15 2000 by Donald Mitchell
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