Smugtown U.S.A - Curt Gerling
A depiction, written in a lighthearted slangy style, with lots of colorful character sketches, and hundreds of names dropped, of Rochester, NY, in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, when all institutions and all public social life were controlled by the wealth of a few large companies, foremost Kodak. The millionaires, says the author, arranged politics and public affairs and all else to suit themselves and maintain their power, and also imposed a tone of prim, stifling respectability and decorum and caution and uniformity. Gerling also gives some hints of how things got that way. The longest chapter is a history of the city's newspapers from the relatively lively teens and twenties, when Gannett's resolutely stodgy sheet was only one of a number, to the death or acquisition of all its competitors (and the Gannet chain has a monopoly to this day). The book is interesting enough, though I find the author's telegraphic, allusive style hard to follow sometimes. Still, it mostly made me want to go read [b:Main Street|11376|Main Street|Sinclair Lewis||2772489].