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Idealists, Scoundrels and the Lady.

If time can heal all wounds, it can also provide distance and perspective. Time was a commodity in short supply when the project to restore the Statue of Liberty was undertaken, and, unfortunately, when the book describing that project was written.

In Idealists, Scoundrels, and The Lady, F. Ross Holland provides a valuable record of a historic event, but some passages read as though meeting minutes have been packaged into chapters designed to stand alone.

Although the book may not win any literary awards, its value should not be overlooked. Holland has performed a service by presenting a critique of what went wrong and what went right with this $280-million fund-raising and restoration challenge.

The book is especially valuable in light of the more than $2-billion backlog in maintenance and other projects that plagues the Park Service. Holland suggests: "There are sites of a lesser dimension that could be the center of public-private cooperation, but each, for the most part, win have less tolerance for failure; consequently, the project will have to be carefully stractured and thought through before it is begun."

This advice, Holland suggests, was not necessarily adhered to during the Statue of Liberty project. The Reagan Administration, Holland says, fostered private-public partnerships not because these were the best arrangement, but because the administration believed the "private sector could handle much of the work of the government better than the government employees could."

The restoration was a public-private experiment plagued by turf wars. But despite the hurdles, "The restoration was a patriotic effort that...marked the nation's emergence from the shadow of the Vietnam experience" - an accomplishment that Holland suggests was by itself enough to justify the project.

Idealists, Scoundrels, and The Lady, clothbound, $39.95; published by the University of Illinois Press, Champaign, Illinois.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Rancourt, Linda M.
Publication:National Parks
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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