BOOK REVIEW

THE DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND - JAMES TRAUB

James Traub, contributing writer for New York Magazine, wrote this book to give us a remarkable history of Times Square as it turns 100!

Traub begins with giving us the background of Times Square when it was originally known as Longacre Square.  He states, "Times Square was, from the very beginning, a theatrical environment - a place that not only had theaters but
was a theater". 

In l904, Longacre Square was officially changed to "Times Square.  Times Square saw many changes during the next few decades.  In 1935 the Paramount began to book big bands such as Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman.  The jitterbug dance craze was starting.  In the 1950's millions of Americans owned a television.  When motion pictures were released in the forties and fifties, most of them opened as a Broadway show. 

The author gives us details of the doom of Times Square in the l960's and l970's and how it was reborn to be known what it is today.

It is obvious at James Traub has done an enormous amount of research to write this book.  Everyone loves Times Square and these people will enjoy reading this book.  The thing that really touched me was when the author wrote about what happened on August 14, 1945 - "Official - Truman announces Japanese surrender".  "One-half million people packed Times Square and sent up a mighty roar that lasted twenty minutes".  People embraced as workers in nearby buildings through confetti.  By 10:00 P.M. the crowd reached 2 million people who were hugging, kissing and sobbing.  The crowd did not want to leave.  This just gives us some indication as to the symbol of what Times Square meant to these people.  Times Square was a central place to gather to celebrate a joyous and important moment such as the end of the war.  Where better to celebrate than Times Square?  Times Square had been the center of many things throughout our history.  As the author states, Times Square is the all American urban playground. 

Mr. Traub has done an excellent job of putting this book together - the facts of his research, the timelines and the descriptive insights all add up to a wonderful book to read.  Add this book to your reading list!

REVIEWED BY NANCY EATON

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR, NANCY EATON

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