The Kid of Coney Island

The Kid of Coney Island

3.51 (29 ratings by Goodreads)
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A generation before Walt Disney, Fred Thompson was the "boy-wonder" of American popular amusements. At the turn of the 20th century, Thompson's entrepreneurial drive made him into an entertainment mogul who helped to define the popular culture of his day. In this lively biography, cultural historian Woody Register tells the remarkable story of Thompson and examines the transformation of commerce and entertainment as American society moved into an era of mass marketing and large-scale corporate enterprise. Register shows how Thompson got his start as a creator and promoter of carnival shows and world's fairs, including the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, and he traces Thompson's career as one of the principal developers and promoters of Coney Island (where he built Luna Park) and other amusement parks. Thompson built the mammoth Hippodrome Theater in Manhattan and mounted many productions there and on Broadway, noted for their spectacular (and spectacularly costly) staging effects. Thompson aggressively marketed to adult consumers a world of make-believe and childlike play, crafting his own public image as "the boy who never grew up." Register shows how strongly Thompson's fantasies appealed to the growing legions of men and women who found themselves in a world that seemed increasingly "businesslike," profit-oriented, and more

Product details

  • Hardback | 400 pages
  • 157.48 x 236.22 x 35.56mm | 748.42g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195144937
  • 9780195144932

Review quote

"This wonderfully written, entertaining and unusually perceptive look at a forefather of 20th-century American leisure culture makes delightful reading out of serious scholarship.... Ranging from the theoretical (the construction of white masculinity in popular literature and entertainments) to wonderful specifics (e.g. the alleged threat of teddy bears 'to all instincts of motherhood' in young girls), Register makes an important contribution to the literature of popular culture, consumerism and gender."--Publishers Weekly"Register creates a vivid and captivating biography of amusement tycoon Frederic Thompson. Beautifully and artfully written, this book revives Thompson's extraordinary career and presents a powerful discourse on the grown-up child and the commercial culture of Peter Pan." --Library Journal"A thorough and well-illustrated biography of the man who created the most amusing amusements in America."--New York"Delightful, informative, conceptually innovative, exquisitely written, and intellectually exciting. Register has done a masterful job, producing one of the best books on consumer culture in America."--David Nasaw, author of The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst and Going Out: The Rise and Fall of Public Amusements"Woody Register eloquently uses Fred Thompson's meteoric career to show how 'the commercial culture of Peter Pan' made play and pleasure legitimate elements of 20th century masculinity.... Fun was also a big business, and Register also explicates the careful planning, marketing strategy, and substantial capital investment in Thompson's enterprises that emerged from the same management methods and modern technology as America's industrial behemoths. Register's study is a fine contribution to the exciting new literature on business and culture, and should be read by students in American History, American studies, business history, and cultural studies."--Dr. Roger Horowitz, Associate Director of the Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, Delawareshow more

About Woody Register

Woody Register is Professor of American Studies at Sewanee, The University of the South. He lives in Sewanee, more

Rating details

29 ratings
3.51 out of 5 stars
5 3% (1)
4 55% (16)
3 31% (9)
2 10% (3)
1 0% (0)
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