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  "Free for All," "Only in New York," "Dancing in the Dark"

Book Review

As oral historians of long time standing and as the authors of "It Happened on Broadway" -  we were especially interested in immersing ourselves in "Free For All" by Kenneth Turan & Joseph Papp (Doubleday, $35.00, 593 pages).   As  oral history and as a pastiche on Papp, the pioneering, one-of-a-kind theatrical personality the book is a winner.
It was a long time coming as Kenneth Turan back in 1986 did a deal with Papp to create the definitive oral history of the New York Shakespeare  Festival and Public Theater. Now all these years later and after whittling down a list of 160 people and 10,000 pages of text and with the cooperation of Papp's widow -  we have "Free For All."
Folks ranging from Joseph Papp to Robert Whitehead, from Estelle Parsons to Linda Ronstadt and many more make up the "voices" that bring "Joe Papp, the Public, and the Greatest Theater Story Ever Told" to life  as the sub-title of the book proclaims  - -as only oral history can. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
In a Big Apple frame of mind there is also "Only in New York" by Sam Roberts (St. Martin's Press, $23.99, 304 pages). The New York Times urban affairs correspondent, and the host of "The New York Times Close Up" on "New York 1" which one of us has been a guest on a couple of times,  has given us a  terrific tome that serves as an exploration of the greatest city in the world. For forty years Roberts has been on the scene doing his thing and in "Only in New York" he offers insights, trivia, opinions in essay after essay that raises our consciousness or strike a common cord. If you love New York City, you will love what Sam Roberts has done. Buy the book!
"Dancing in the Dark" by Morris Dickstein (Norton, $29.95, 598 pages) is a highly relevant book for today "A Cultural History of the Great Depression" as announced in its sub-title.  The work is a tremendous labor of love, of scholarship, of passion for a topic. Dickstein deserves high praise for this monumental work that connects the role of the arts to a nation gripped by the Great Depression.

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About the Authors:  Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer are a wife and husband team who successfully bridge the worlds of popular culture and traditional scholarship. Co-authors of the critically acclaimed interactive oral histories It Happened in the Catskills, It Happened in Brooklyn, Growing Up Jewish in America, It Happened on Broadway, It Happened in Manhattan, It Happened in Miami. They teach what they practice as professors at Dartmouth College.

They are also travel writers who specialize in luxury properties and fine dining as well as cultural history and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. More about these authors.

You can contact the Frommers at: 

Email: myrna.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU
Email: harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2012 by Harvey and Myrna Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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