Thomas Kessner is a graduate of Brooklyn College (1963) and earned his doctorate at Columbia University in 1975 with distinction. He was appointed as distinguished professor at the Graduate Center in 2005. His special areas of interest are American urban and social history and the history of New York City. He has published several books, including The Flight of the Century: Charles A. Lindbergh and the Rise of American Aviation (2010); Capital City: New York City and the Men Behind America’s Rise to Economic Dominance, 1860–1900 (2003); Fiorello H. LaGuardia and the Making of Modern New York (1989); and The Golden Door (1977), a study of immigrant life and economic mobility in New York City.
Kessner’s work has garnered awards and fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. He has served as a consultant to the New York City Board of Education, the Ellis Island Museum, the New-York Historical Society, the Museum of the City of New York, and many other scholarly and professional institutions. He was also an associate editor for the Encyclopedia of New York City and has directed more than half a dozen NEH summer seminars for college and high school teachers.
The Flight of the Century: Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of American Aviation
(Pivotal Moments in American History)
In May 1927 an inexperienced and unassuming 25-year-old Air Mail pilot from rural Minnesota stunned the world by making the first nonstop transatlantic flight. A spectacular feat of individual daring and collective technological accomplishment, Charles Lindbergh's flight from New York to Paris ushered in America's age of commercial aviation. In this book, Kessner takes a fresh look at one of America's greatest moments, showing how new forms of mass media made Lindbergh into the most famous international celebrity of his time. But he also reveals that Lindbergh was closely allied with, and managed by, a group of powerful businessmen who sought to exploit aviation for mass transport and massive profits. This book is the first to fully explore Lindbergh's central role in promoting the airline industry-the rise of which has influenced everything from where we live to how we wage war and do business.
Published July 2010
Oxford University Press, 2010
Capital City: New York and the Men Behind America's Rise to Economic Dominance, 1860-1900
Thomas Kessner tells the dramatic story of New York's transformation from port city to financial capital of the world in the course of a generation. No succeeding generation enjoyed the economic power, the open political atmosphere, and the shaping influence available to this group of capitalists," Kessner writes. During this period, money accumulated in New York, as a banking culture emerged, and ambitious men were drawn to the city to make enormous fortunes. Kessner's colorful, epic narrative profiles such figures as J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller, who forged a brave and ruthless new brand of corporate capitalism. In Capital City, Kessner describes the competitive climate that led to New York-rather than Boston, Philadelphia, or any other northern cityâ€”becoming the global financial center.
Published April 2004
Simon & Schuster, 2004