This entertaining and enlightening book depicts the rise of popular culture in America by brilliantly recapturing the essence and commercial trappings of one of its most vital forms of entertainment—the vaudeville show. Vaudeville was a meeting place, an inclusive form of theatre that flourished especially in New York, where it fostered cultural exchange among the city's ethnic groups. In The Voice of the City, Mr. Snyder reconstructs the famous acts, describes the different theatres, and shows how entrepreneurs created a near monopoly over bookings, theatres, and performers. He also gives us vaudeville's decline, its audiences usurped by musical comedy, radio, and the movies. "A fascinating and highly readable social history....By exploring the place of vaudeville in the neighborhoods and in the city central theatre district, Robert Snyder brilliantly illuminates the way city culture was made and worked in the lives of people at the turn of the century."—Thomas Bender. "The most authoritative book on American vaudeville...also a remarkably good read, filled with colorful details and incisive commentary on American popular culture in the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century."—David Nasaw.
Robert W. Snyder, a former newspaper reporter, has taught at Princeton and at New York University and is now an associate of the Media Studies Center in New York.