The Guest List by Ethan Mordden
How Manhattan Defined American Sophistication---from the Algonquin Round Table to Truman Capote's Ball

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Synopsis

From the 1920s to the early 1960s, Manhattan was America’s beacon of sophistication. From the theatres of Broadway to the lobby of the Algonquin Hotel to tables at the Stork Club, intelligence and wit were the twinned coins of the realm. Alexander Woolcott, Irving Berlin, Edna Ferber, Arturo Toscanini, Leonard Bernstein, Cole Porter, Dorothy Parker, Truman Capote, the Lunts and Helen Hayes presided over the town. Their books, plays, performances, speeches, dinner parties, masked balls, loves, hates, likes and dislikes became the aspirations of a nation. If you wanted to be sophisticated, you played by Manhattan’s rules. If you didn’t, you simply weren’t on the guest list. The Heartland rebelled against Manhattan’s dictum, but never prevailed. In this lively cultural history, Mordden chronicles the city’s most powerful and influential era.
 

About Ethan Mordden

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Ethan Mordden's work has appeared in The New Yorker (three short stories, A Critic At Large features, and book review leads), The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. His Christopher Street column, Is There a Book In This?, gave birth to the five volumes of gay stories known as the Buddies series, about a "family" of friends enjoying life and love in Manhattan. Mordden's non-fiction includes books on New York cultural history (The Guest List: How Manhattan Defined American Sophistication), opera, Hollywood, and Broadway, including a six-volume history of the American musical.
 
Published September 28, 2010 by St. Martin's Press. 336 pages
Genres: History. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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New Yorker and New York Times contributor and Broadway-musical maven Mordden (Ziegfield: The Man Who Invented Show Business, 2008, etc.) whisks readers through five crucial decades—1920s to ’60s—of New York’s golden era, when cultural refinement began to free itself from the shackles of aristocra...

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Publishers Weekly

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Mordden, a novelist and historian of the Broadway musical, details how Manhattan taught America's often skeptical Main Street to be stylish and sophisticated.

Mar 28 2011 | Read Full Review of The Guest List: How Manhattan...

The Wall Street Journal

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In the late 19th century, prominent New Yorkers were found almost exclusively among the "First 400," supposedly the number of guests who could fit into Caroline Astor's ballroom.

Oct 02 2010 | Read Full Review of The Guest List: How Manhattan...

Bookmarks Magazine

Alexander Woolcott, Irving Berlin, Edna Ferber, Arturo Toscanini, Leonard Bernstein, Cole Porter, Dorothy Parker, Truman Capote, the Lunts and Helen Hayes presided over the town.

Oct 03 2010 | Read Full Review of The Guest List: How Manhattan...

Shine from Yahoo

Mordden presents a first-rate chapter on the city's wildly corrupt politics, taking in Tammany Hall and the exploitation of Irish voting blocs, up through Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia's virtually graft-free administration (I'd like to see Hizzoner Bloomberg run into a burning building).

Sep 23 2010 | Read Full Review of The Guest List: How Manhattan...

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