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How Manhattan Defined American Sophistication---from the Algonquin Round Table to Truman Capote's Ball

Ethan Mordden

St. Martin's Press

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.

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1
Grand Hotel: The Round Table
The revolution collected its poster children in yet another hotel, the Algonquin, just a few months after Cole Porter claimed his cozy little corner in the Ritz. Here, at 59 West Forty-fourth Street, in Frank Case's twelve-story inn of special appeal to the performing arts and literary worlds, one gazed upon a clutch of truly familyless celebrities.
Some were the offspring of people only recently settled in America after emigration from unglamorous parts of Europe. Others came from geo graphical footnotes in the midwest or a city like Pittsburgh. One was
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Ethan Mordden

  • ETHAN MORDDEN is the author of dozens of books, both fiction and nonfiction. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker and numerous other magazines and journals. He lives in Manhattan.
  • Ethan Mordden
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    The Guest List

    How Manhattan Defined American Sophistication---from the Algonquin Round Table to Truman Capote's Ball

    Ethan Mordden

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    St. Martin's Press

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