Paying the Toll
I'm reading the manuscript for Louise Dyble's Paying the Toll: Power, Politics, and the Golden Gate Bridge, 1923-1971. Louise is especially concerned with the creation, administration, and survival of the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District. Like many special districts, it was supposed to transcend the clamor of special interests and "politics." I'm only a couple of chapters into it, but I can already appreciate Louise's claim that the district was, from the moment of its conception, always already political--often in unhelpful ways.
I'll have more to say when I finish reading the manuscript, but her description of an early encounter with the district indicates her skill as an author:
[When] I explained my interest in the bridge's history and asked to view a selection of early records and files, the full-time public relations officer met my request with prohibitive insurance requirements, claiming that the district could not accept the liability for my presence at their offices. I was informed that the bridge's history had already been written, and it was available at the toll plaza gift shop.
Imagine how many dissertations could have been averted by a well-stocked gift shop!
I've added Louise's new blog, Paying the Toll, over there on your starboard. The book will be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press--soon, I hope.