[URBANTH-L]New book--"Money Jungle: Imagining the New Times Square"

chesluk at ix.netcom.com chesluk at ix.netcom.com
Fri Sep 28 10:29:52 EDT 2007

Dear Friends,

I am happy to announce the publication of my new book, "Money Jungle: Imagining
the New Times Square," by Rutgers University Press. 

"Money Jungle" is a multi-sited ethnographic study of the recent redevelopment
of Times Square. In it, I describe Times Square as the site of conflicts over the
nature and meaning of urban life in an era of post-industrial reconstruction. The
book is illustrated with remarkable B&W photos from Maggie Hopp, who has been
chronicling the changing streetscape of Times Square for decades.

The publisher has this to say about "Money Jungle":

“The strength of this book lies in Chesluk’s ability to ground his ethnographic 
inquiries with a historically informed sensibility of the cultural career of redevelopment efforts in Times Square. Unique and innovative, Money Jungle represents an important contribution to urban anthropology and to the studies of cities generally.”—John Hartigan Jr., Department of Anthropology, University of Texas

“Money Jungle is a compelling ethnography that takes the reader on a layered and
vivid tour of the people and forces that produce urban change. With his imaginative and multifaceted approach to an iconic site, Chesluk makes a strong contribution to anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies.”—Lorna A. Rhodes, author of Total Confinement: Madness and Reason in the Maximum Security Prison

"For more than a century, Times Square has mesmerized the world with the spectacle of its dazzling supersigns, its theaters and its often-seedy nightlife. New York City's iconic crossroads has drawn crowds of revelers, thrill-seekers and other urban denizens, not to mention lavish outpourings of advertising and development money. 

Many have hotly debated the recent transformation of this legendary intersection,
with voices typically falling into two opposing camps. Some applaud a blighted red-light district becoming a big-budget, mainstream destination. Others lament an urban zone of lawless possibility being replaced by a Disneyfied, theme-park version of New York. In Money Jungle, Benjamin Chesluk shows that what is really at stake in Times Square are fundamental questions about city life—questions of power, pleasure and what it means to be a citizen in contemporary urban space.  

Chesluk weaves together surprising stories of everyday life in and around the Times Square redevelopment, tracing the connections between people from every level of this grand project in social and spatial engineering: the developers, architects, and designers responsible for reshaping the urban public spaces of Times Square and Forty-second Street; the experimental Midtown Community Court and its Times Square Ink. job-training program for misdemeanor criminals; encounters between NYPD officers and residents of Hell’s Kitchen; and angry confrontations between city planners and neighborhood activists over the future of the area. 

With an eye for offbeat, telling details and a perspective that is at once sympathetic and critical, Chesluk documents how the redevelopment has tried, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, to reshape the people and places of Times Square. The result is a colorful and engaging portrait, illustrated by stunning photographs by long-time local photographer Maggie Hopp, of the street life, politics, economics, and cultural forces that mold America’s urban centers."

Here is a link to Rutgers UP's catalog page for the book:


Of course, the book is also available via Amazon.com.

I am proud of "Money Jungle," and I would greatly appreciate comments 
or feedback from anyone who reads it and/or uses it in their courses. Feel free 
to send me email at chesluk at ix.netcom.com.

And, of course, please feel free to forward this information along to anyone you
think might be interested!

Thanks very much,

Ben Chesluk

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