"The Guest List" by author Ethan Mordden is a delight for anyone who enjoys New York City and 20th Century history. What is also interesting about Mordden's book is that he explains some of the little-known details that people often miss or assume that everyone knows already.
For example he gives a interesting backstory in the prologue of how NYC society and most of early 20th Century society was cast with people like Mrs. Astor, (then a "grand duchess" of American society).
He mentions many of the significant people of those times and also provides some understanding of the dynamics of "celebrity." And how it has changed in the past few decades.
Mordden also provides simple yet humorous insights into the various people and characters of the times, which lead up to the present.
Some might find "The Guest List" to be focused primarily upon celebrity, as Mordden has written about eight other books on Broadway and the history of the American musical.
The Kirkus Review said Mordden's book lacked serious historical study.
Yet, I think Mordden included serious aspects. Only, he keeps it witty and wants to feature what he enjoys most, the uniqueness which is New York City as a center for arts & American culture.
It is amazing how much diverse history gets packed into only 100 years. That's if one takes into account all of the variety of people, events and circumstances that occur. I am sure if the Kirkus Review was to look more closely at the "Sources & Further Reading" chapter, it would be clear that Mordden did his homework.
Mordden has written for the New York Times and The New Yorker
Yes, Morrden has his own particular point of view, which has stirred people in praise as well in criticism of his work. But I think he does give an extensive overview, worthy of a historian's respect.
And, gets the reader to laugh a bit in the process. This book is well worth one's time if one enjoys history of American culture and the arts. And, yes, of course, New York City.