A Book Signing: James Mauro's Twilight at the World of Tomorrow

Last night at Tulsa's iconic Philbrook Museum of Art, Book Smart Tulsa held yet another fascinating and successful event. The star of the evening was James Mauro, author of Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder and the 1939 World's Fair on the Brink of War.

Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World's Fair on the Brink of War
In typical Book Smart Tulsa fashion, this was not just a book signing- this was an experience. Entering the museum, you were greeted by the sounds of a local musician echoing off the walls of the rotunda and offered sticker replicas of buttons worn at the 1939 World's Fair. Before grabbing a seat, many made their way to the bar where you could grab a zombie- the unofficial official cocktail of the fair. A mix of apricot brandy and various rums and fruit juices, there is a reason why it's called a zombie- you may feel a little dazed after indulging in this potent, yet delicious beverage!

Before the author began his presentation, you were invited to make your way through the American Streamlined Design exhibit that features streamlined objects from the 1920s to 1950s- the same design used throughout the 1939 World's Fair, making Philbrook the perfect place to host this author.

Arriving to the event, I was unfamiliar with the book and the author himself but I knew that this would not stop me from enjoying the evening and I was right. Mauro gave a great presentation complete with plenty of fascinating photographs and interesting anecdotes about the 1939 World's Fair in New York. From the designs featured at the fair grounds to the little known 4th of July bombing, Mauro was able to take dates, names and facts and present them like he was giving a first-hand account. 
The 1939 World's Fair marked the debut of the television, nylons, the fax machine and the first public use of fluorescent lighting (for better or for worse, as Mauro put it). Also making a presence at the fair was none other than Albert Einstein, whom the fair gave a mere five minutes to explain to the public cosmic rays. The most fascinating part about this World's Fair is its location in history. Situated between the Great Depression and World War II, the irony of peace being the World's Fair theme while the world was on the brink of war is astounding. Having recently visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, it was a shocking contrast to what was really happening in Europe. 
After Mauro finished his presentation, he took poignant questions from the audience. Amongst those in attendance were visitors to the 1939 World's Fair itself! Seated at my table was a woman who was named after a lady her parents met while attending the fair, inspiring her to come to the event. Good-spirited competition finished out the evening with a game of trivia focusing on 1939-1940s facts- needless to say I did not have much to contribute!

Next time an interesting Book Smart Tulsa event comes up but you're worried that you haven't read the book or are unfamiliar with the author, fear not! You will come away entertained and enlightened with another book for your reading list.

Haven't caught the American Streamlined Design exhibit yet? It runs until May 15th- and guess what! The first two weeks in May are free! Don't miss it!


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