Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bridgeport: Tales from the Park City

Opportunities multiply as they are seized. — Sun Tzu
Good news: friend and frequent Holy Embers commenter Eric Lehman has a new book out. His first published book, Bridgeport: Tales from the Park City is a collection of stories about the adventurous, even heroic, characters that helped bring their small Connecticut town to prominence in the 19th century. A few chapters in, however, and it’s apparent that Eric’s written not a cultural history of Bridgeport but of the country as a whole: a history of America in miniature.

The book, available here, is an engaging, entertaining account of figures grand (P.T. Barnum) and small (General Tom Thumb). I’ll leave you with the end of the book’s prologue, a fitting summary of the initiative and ingenuity which marked Bridgeport during its golden era and for which America became famous.

. . .

[The Marquis de] Lafayette did not foresee it, but this small town would become a center of creative industry and would one day evolve to be the largest city in Connecticut. Its people would watch the sea and take to the sky. Its inventors would transform the fields of metalwork, sewing and dental hygiene. There would be famous colonels and famous cartoonists. Two of its citizens would go on to become the most popular entertainers of the nineteenth century. Thousands of others would help America win both World Wars. But first, those people needed a little elbow room. Twelve years after the famous hero of the Revolution passed through Bridgeport, the townsfolk asked for a charter from the state of Connecticut. They would become their own city at last, and live proudly in the inspired vanguard of the possible.

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