As a kid growing up in Manhattan, William Helmreich played a game with his father they called "Last Stop." They would pick a subway line and ride it to its final destination, and explore the neighborhood there. Decades later, Helmreich teaches university courses about New York, and his love for exploring the city is as strong as ever.
Putting his feet to the test, he decided that the only way to truly understand New York was to walk virtually every block of all five boroughs - an astonishing 6,000 miles. His epic journey lasted four years and took him to every corner of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Helmreich spoke with hundreds of New Yorkers from every part of the globe and from every walk of life, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former mayors Rudolph Giuliani, David Dinkins, and Edward Koch. Their stories and his are the subject of this captivating and highly original book.
We meet the Guyanese immigrant who grows beautiful flowers outside his modest Queens residence in order to always remember the homeland he left behind, the Brooklyn-raised grandchild of Italian immigrants who illuminates a window of his brownstone with the family's old neon grocery store sign, and many, many others. Helmreich draws on firsthand insights to examine essential aspects of urban social life such as ethnicity, gentrification, and the use of space. He finds that to be a New Yorker is to struggle to understand the place and to make a life that is as highly local as it is dynamically cosmopolitan.
Truly unforgettable, The New York Nobody Knows will forever change how you view the world's greatest city.
©2013 Princeton University Press (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
Pronunciation of both foreign-language and English words.
The concept is amazing.
The narrator consistently mispronounces both foreign-language and English terms, to the point of annoyance.
The narrator is enthusiastic, but his consistent mispronunciation of terms relating to Judaism ("Chabad," "Lubavitcher," "Rebbe," many others) is annoying, given the centrality of Jewish communities to this book. He mispronounces French terms ("trompe l'oeil") and English (well, Latin) ones ("mores" should be pronounced "morays"). I don't know enough about the process of producing talking books to know whether this is the director's responsibility or the narrator's, but in this particular book, with its profusion of cultures, the consistent mispronunciation is really a problem. It should be re-recorded.
Heimreich presents a plausible discussion about diversity in NYC. He is a sociologist so the book has an academic perspective, but it is very informative. However, since he mentions many times that he walked over 6,000 miles of NYC streets, he does not organize the book by this approach. Rather then being neighborhood oriented, it is theme oriented. I would have preferred a neighborhood view.
However, my criticism is the narrator who is clearly unfamiliar with NYC, and I think inappropriate. He mispronounces many place names (such as Gerritsen, Moshulu, Houston, Gowanus, Todt Hill, Luquer, and more) and even general words, like "Trompe L'Oeil". This is very jarring to those who know NYC and detracts for his credibility. I wish Audible had checked for this before the audio was available.
Professor Helmreich has done a masterful study of the people, neighborhoods, and their changing patterns in a great city. Having grown up in Brooklyn I was especially interested in all that has gone on in the city over the past generation or two. Helmreich has put together fascinating vignettes that highlight his major points.
The reader did not do his homework. I would think that if you were selected to read a book about New York, or any city for that matter, you would check on the pronunciation of the names of streets, neighborhoods, and people. Why wasn't the work checked?
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