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In the Country of Brooklyn: Inspiration to…

In the Country of Brooklyn: Inspiration to the World

by Peter Golenbock

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The many interviews that make up this book are interesting, but, as other reviewers have pointed out, the organization and linking materials need more work. It's an okay book to dip into (sleepless night? long afternoon?), and will be of special interest to those who are really interested in Brooklyn for one reason or another. ( )
  annaflbak | Jan 22, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
If you like Brooklyn, you'll love this book. If Brooklyn is on the other side of the country as in my case you'll stick it in the bookcase and say maybe someday when I have nothing else to read. ( )
  winecat | Jan 9, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In the Country of Brooklyn is Peter Golenbock's compilation of dozens and dozens and dozens and possibly a few more dozen interviews he conducted with various residents of Brooklyn throughout its last almost-century of history. Through the spoken experience of various average and important personages of Brooklyn through the years, Golenbock attempts to give us a sense of an exciting and progressive place, home to the entire spectrum of immigrants that eventually found their way to the United States, that spawned a variety of political activists, sports heroes, as well as an impressive array of cultural contributions. Golenbock uses his interviews to comment on Brooklyn's struggle and ultimate willingness to integrate its diverse population, the struggle to get government to recognize and respond to the needs of its people, its present efforts to rejuvenate parts of the community that have fallen into disuse and disrepair, and, given its length, much, much more.

Golenbock must have taken an incredible amount of time to speak with his many subjects and transcribe their words, and it shows. This book is packed with the thoughts and memories of countless people connected in some way to Brooklyn. These interviews make up the meat of the book. Most are interesting, and many are downright compelling. In addition, there are past and present pictures of Booklyn as well as of each of the interviews' subjects which is another definite addition to this book.

That said, if you're going to read this book, read it for the interviews. Golenbock's background and assorted "filler" information is at times, unfortunately, downright painful to read. Golenbock's wild generalizations and obvious political intrusions will bother any serious historian and any average person who happens to disagree with his views. The book's organization is also sorely lacking. While the interviews are a pleasure to read, Golenbock seems to struggle to make them coalesce around any sort of main point. Indeed, some of the interviewees, while interesting, seem to have only the most fleeting of connections with Brooklyn which, it seems, Golenbock might have been attempting to include in an effort to define Brooklyn in a certain way that doesn't quite seem to pan out. Instead what we have is a massive tome that, once you've passed the midway point, seems to drag on to some uncertain destination that is never reached. With a good edit for page count and organization and perhaps an overhaul of Golenbock's background information, In the Country of Brooklyn, with all its potent first person accounts, could have packed quite a punch, but as it stands, it will leave real history buffs wishing for something a little more substantial. ( )
  yourotherleft | Dec 20, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"The Puritans, similar to the Taliban today, were a joyless lot. ...If a child was a bed wetter, they made him eat a rat sandwich."

Right. And if you are thinking it may be unfair to judge the entire book based on this sentence (which is representative, actually, of other such sweeping statements without sources to back them up), then I can only say that I suggest it is unfair to compare all Puritans to the Taliban based on some single Puritan somewhere that fed his child a rat sandwich as a punishment for bedwetting, if it even happened. With no source, we also have no context- perhaps it didn't happen. Perhaps it wasn't a joyless punishment but a strange 17th century folk remedy equally practiced by 17th century Catholics.
It's a good example of how difficult it is to take any other stories by this author, however interesting, as accurate. ( )
  DeputyHeadmistress | Nov 6, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Not being a New Yorker or having actually ever visited, I found this book to be very educational, interesting and enlightening. I do know that several of my relatives passed through Ellis Island about the very time in history the author is writing about . I appreciate the way that brought my personal history alive for me. Recommended for those who really want in depth explanation of the times. ( )
  erinclark | Jul 13, 2009 |
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