lunedì, giugno 18, 2018

In pursuit of Privilege A History of New York City's Upper Class & the Making of a Metropolis by Clifton Hood


Fascinating, absolutely absorbing, rich of anecdotes and stories that will let you discover people, places, who made New York City.
Ladies and gentlemen in this review we will treat the big, diversified story of New York's upper class.
Starting from a beautiful cover, In pursuit of Privilege A History of New York City's Upper Class & the Making of a Metropolis by Clifton Hood, published by Columbia University Press is a wonderful reading.

New Yorkers: starting from 1750 to recent times we will discover the main differences between NYC upper class and the ones of Philadelphia and Boston, created ethically and under a religious perspective.
New Yorkers didn't mind of ethic: the important fact was money-making and thanks to commerce, business in many fields, good weather a lot of people became not just very rich, but powerful, influential and an elite in grade to give directions to the society.

We will read that the funeral of Waldorf Astor was the celebration of an eminent man, but we will also assist at the division created by the seven year war  against UK with two factions in the upper class.

We will understand why the elite decided to build in the exclusive Upper West Side. Brooklyn was a good choice but too distant for staying connected with friends, family members, schools attended by their children.

For trying to give directions to the rest of population someone published American Chesterfield although this book received a lot of negative reviews because there was written that middle-class people who displayed merit and good breeding could readily enter high society, when facts were completely different, because a different system and a different social condition from the one of the middle-class with more lacks in comparison to the upper class standard.

Most of these gentlemen loved to keep journals and diaries but in general avoided to report the real New York they met along their way but only the New York that they wanted to remember, portraying their friends, the estates of their friends, social life.

We will visit New Yorkers' households, understanding feasts, celebrations, balls in a typical upper class' estate. Mr. Hadden for example wanted to meet only people of quality.
Servants of the upper class were Irish.

The book will analyze the difficult years of the Secession War.
New York didn't lose its appeal and in 1892 counted 1265 millionaires and more people benefitted of best life's conditions. The elite grew up much more during these decades.
A special chapter is dedicated at that exclusive men's clubs created by the elite, the most diversified ones.
The book treats the story and creation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Metropolitan Opera, like also the fertile activity of the upper class for the creation of high culture thanks to a lot of philanthropists.
We are now at the 1940s with Rockefeller, but also with a newborn upper class by bankers, lawyers etc. The author will visit for us the most relevant country clubs talking also of that prep schools attended by the children of the upper class people.

Final chapters are dedicated at the decline of the upper class thanks to a change of habits, different situations, as you will read.
I loved to read the story of John Zacharias.
He studied in Princeton, son of a modest family but in grade with the time of building a solid existence. Now his family is solid and important.

We will also see how the money of upper class' people is spent now:  not anymore in frivolous objects, but invested in their children's education, for securing them the best jobs in the market.

I thank Columbia University Press for the physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori

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