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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

August 25, 1996|Kenneth Turan

BROOKLYN! An Illustrated History by Ellen M. Snyder-Grenier for the Brooklyn Historical Society (Temple University Press: $54.95 cloth, $18.95 paper, 292 pp.). It's been famously said that only the dead know Brooklyn, but those seeking a less extreme path to knowledge will find this exemplary book to be just what is needed. Thorough and detailed without being stuffy, it covers the borough by focusing on five of its most significant totems: the Brooklyn Bridge, the Navy Yard, Coney Island, the Dodgers and the lively Brooklynites who now and in the past have called this place home. Who knew that Brooklyn was the site of "the largest urban concentration of Norwegians in the United States"? Or that the Brooklyn Bridge was so massive in its day that it dwarfed the Manhattan skyline? Knowledgeable Brooklynites will appreciate the book's accurate references to such borough traditions as skelly (a street game) and the spaldeen (a small pink ball used in street games), while even those who have never been east of the Continental Divide will enjoy the enormous number of carefully chosen black-and-white and color illustrations. And, just for the record, if you don't remember exactly what happened on Oct. 4, 1955, "Brooklyn!" will expertly fill you in.

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