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American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley - His Battle for Chicago and the Nation Paperback – May 1, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The authors paint a portrait of Daley that shows his enormous personal complexity--a devout Catholic and loyal family man who did not hesitate to engage in the most bare-fisted power politics or work to capitalize on the basest human instincts. While I tend to agree with other reviewers that the book focusses a bit heavily on racial matters during the Daley mayoralty, they played a major role during this period and Daley's attempt to balance the competing interests of white ethnics and black citizens ultimately undermined the absolute authority of the Chicago Democratic machine. I disagree with reviewers who say that the authors were too anti-Daley; I feel they made an honest effort to credit him for the considerable accomplishments of his tenure--including the preservation of Downtown Chicago as a going concern when so many other rust belt cities in the Midwest and Great Lakes area were going under (e.g., Detroit, St. Louis, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh). They make clear, however, the enormous price that was paid for his accomplishments, including the subversion of democracy and the exacerbation of racial tensions in Chicago.
For example, what do Daley's successes and failures as a public servant reveal about the political and social worlds in which they occurred? During the years he served as mayor, could he have achieved these same successes without maintaining absolute control of the city's political system? What did Daley share in common with those in control of the Chicago syndicate? To what extent were there strategic alliances with them? Why? If Daley was as corrupt as so many have claimed, why has no incontrovertible evidence of that corruption been presented?
The authors have much to say about Daley's relationship with Chicago's black community. This was an uneasy, at times hostile relationship. To what extent was Daley's leadership as mayor a reflection of the community (Bridgeport) in which he was born and raised? Did he hate blacks? Did he fear them? Or is there another explanation of his attitude toward them? Ancient pharaohs were on occasion benevolent to those whom they viewed as inferior as were, more recently, plantation owners in the Deep South. Perhaps Cohen and Taylor had this in mind when they selected their title.Read more ›
Certainly from the point of view of those who believe that public housing was and can be a most worthwhile contribution to the US urban scene, this is an indispensable piece of history.
It tells what public housing was in the twenty years when Elizabeth Wood administered the program, how it served working poor families - most of whom were mom and pop families. It shows how congregate housing could provide good shelter for families both on a separate and an integrated basis. Likewise it describes the machinations which relieved her of her job. But most important it tells of the twenty years of the Daley administration which because of its hostility to public housing put in charge of the Chicago Housing Authority a series of mediocre, incompetent, and most of all uninterested executive directors who allowed and virtually guided public housing to its present straits, where it is today the housing of last resort.
Finally it does what is equally rare. It shows how the 1969 Gautreaux case, the US Supreme Court decision that was calculated to help public housing and racial integration, has actually had minimal results. Moreover, the case has resulted in a situation where virtually no more public housing has been built since 1969.
Jim Fuerst, Chicago, IL
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very informative and gripping. Great read for anyone who cares about Chicago and political history.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Disappointing. This book seemed critically acclaimed, which was why I was excited to read it. How often can you use the word "hardscrabble"? Read morePublished 4 months ago by Estelle88
Extremely well researched and analysed, this highly readable book shines a bright light on a complex character whose long period of office covered some of the momentous years of... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Steve Einfeld
Who could have guessed that, almost 39 years after his death, Mayor Daley would win the Kentucky Derby.Published 12 months ago by Robert Schneider
A masterpiece that not only serves as a biography of Richard Daley, but shows us how the City of Chicago came to be what it is today. Read morePublished 15 months ago by William Manzi
Chicago politics...ugly. Corruption is a culture that catches on quickly and sticks around.Published 18 months ago by winifred dollear