We are thrilled to highlight that Capital of the World received wonderful reviews in the following pre-pubs: Booklist, Kirkus and now, Library Journal! Check them out below.
Also, we invite you to review the book via NetGalley, read the introduction, or watch Charlene Mires talk about the race to host the United Nations on our YouTube channel!
Booklist: “Polls have repeatedly indicated that many New Yorkers wouldn’t mind if the UN left their city lock, stock, and barrel, taking its bureaucracy and parking-violating diplomats along. The irony is not lost on Mires, for, as she reveals in her surprising and often amusing work, New York ‘won’ the privilege to host the UN after a furious, sometimes sad, and sometimes comical competition with other cities and locales. Some of the competitors were seriously considered, including San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, and even an Ontario Island near Niagara Falls. Others, including the Black Hills of South Dakota, never had a chance. Mires shows how the competition was triggered by a combination of municipal pride, boosterism, and an eagerness to reap the financial rewards that were expected to accrue to the host city. Mires also captures the pervading sense of optimism amongst the claimants after the horrors of WWII. This is a very readable, entertaining account that is aimed at a general audience.”
Kirkus: “Mires (History/Rutgers Univ., Camden; Independence Hall in American Memory, 2002) delivers an amusing account of the intense, if not world-shaking competition for the U.N. headquarters.
When the first serious discussions began in 1944, diplomats paid little attention to locating the headquarters, although most inclined toward America (including the Soviet Union, anxious to keep it far away). Today, few consider the U.N. the enforcer of world peace, but that was a common hope as World War II drew to a close. As such, boosters envisioned their city as the ‘Capital of the World,’ which would also enjoy the economic benefits of hosting a large institution and its staff. A scattering of enthusiasts buttonholed delegates at the spring 1945 San Francisco conference that wrote the U.N. charter, but an avalanche descended on London six months later to lobby diplomats engaged in nailing down its organization. Mires devotes most of the book to unsuccessful candidates ranging from Chicago and Philadelphia to Niagara Falls, the Black Hills of South Dakota, and Tuskahoma, Okla., which deluged officials with sales pitches, posters, brochures, photo albums and futuristic architectural drawings. New York remained aloof from the hard sell but took for granted that any great international organization belonged there. It helped that powerful figures such as Robert Moses and Nelson Rockefeller took an interest and even more that Nelson’s father donated land along the East River now occupied by the U.N. buildings.
Although little was at stake and everyone knows the outcome, Mires works hard and mostly successfully to hold her readers’ interest in the energetic, often-quaint public-relation antics of the 1940s.”
Library Journal: “Mires (history, Rutgers Univ.-Camden), corecipient of the Pulitzer Prize in journalism, investigates a largely unexamined aspect of the birth of the United Nations: the attempt by many U.S. cities during the closing days of World War II to persuade it to base its headquarters in their respective communities. Mires has tracked down elusive archival sources and forgotten newspaper accounts, uncovering a fascinating chronicle involving countless American politicians, foreign diplomats, and community promoters who participated in the feverish lobbying campaign that at times resembled an Atlantic City beauty contest. After numerous site inspections and unending deliberations, the prize was finally awarded to New York City in late 1946, largely owing to the $8.5 million gift of the Rockefeller family allowing the United Nations to build its “workshop of peace” on the Manhattan site overlooking the East River where it resides to this day.
VERDICT: While plenty of books address the creation of the United Nations, Mires provides an important supplement showing how the idealistic search to establish the physical presence of the fledgling organization gave way to the cold realities of the marketplace. Recommended for readers of 20th-century American history, students of urban history, and scholars of post World War II diplomacy.”
+ Be on the look out for the Capital of the World blog tour in March (our first ever!)…