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Big Daddy: Jesse Unruh and the Art of Power Politics Hardcover – November 13, 2007
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"For those who revere the era of California politics when personalities were bigger than political offices in a state where the future seemed brighter every day, this book is a 'must read.'"--Larry N. Gerston"California History" (12/01/2008)
"Sheds light on California's less-than-sedate politics after World War II . . . a telling perspective on the present state of our political affairs."--Peter Schrag"Los Angeles Times Book Review" (11/18/2007)
"For insight into California's government, history and politics, or simply an account of a fascinating personality, this is a book well worth reading."--Richard M. Mosk"Daily Journal" (11/09/2007)
For those who revere the era of California politics when personalities were bigger than political offices in a state where the future seemed brighter every day, this book is a must read. --Larry N. Gerston"California History" (12/01/2008)"
For insight into California s government, history and politics, or simply an account of a fascinating personality, this is a book well worth reading. --Richard M. Mosk"Daily Journal" (11/09/2007)"
"A veteran political reporter provides much detail and insight into both his [Unruh s] alcohol-saturated, woman-chasing personal life and political career."--Dan Walters"Sacramento Bee" (11/20/2007)"
From the Inside Flap
"Jesse Unruh was California's most flamboyant and influential legislator. He has a worthy biographer in Bill Boyarsky, one of the state's best-ever political reporters. Boyarsky has written a lively treasure of a book that is at once critical and sympathetic: he unflinchingly describes Unruh's larger-than-life flaws but gives him deserved credit as an effective populist who wrote civil rights and education laws that were well ahead of their time. Beyond biography, this fascinating book provides a revealing examination of a state capitol culture that has been swept aside by the modern era of term limits and lavish campaign spending. Boyarsky writes about a vanished time when people cared about politics, and politicians like Unruh also cared about the people."Lou Cannon, author of Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power
"Big Daddy is the gripping real-life story of Jesse M. Unruh and the development of California following WWII. Boyarsky reveals how Unruh's multi-faceted character shaped his significant contributions. He was an institution builder who created a professional legislature and a passionate centrist who promoted civil rights, shareholder rights, and a responsible system of educational financing and accountability. This page turner pulls no punches in describing the complexities of the man and his times and their relevance for today's divisive politics."Ann N. Crigler, chair of the Department of Political Science, University of Southern California
"If Bill Boyarsky had merely written about "Big Daddy" Unruh, one of the most powerful California politicians of the 20th Century, this would have been a valuable book. Jesse comes alive in all his bullying bulk and commitment to progressive public policy. But Boyarsky's work is much more than that. It is a close-up look at California's Capitol when it consistently worked, not always in a pretty way. Those politicians may have sinned, but they definitely succeeded in meeting the needs of a fast-growing state. This is an enjoyable read with many lessons."George Skelton, L.A Times State Political Columnist
"Only a seasoned reporter such as Bill Boyarsky would have the insight and skill to chronicle the life and times of this flamboyant but enigmatic politician, this gruff giant, this wizard of the legislative process, this ardent advocate and fierce opponent, the late great Jesse Unruh."Kevin Starr, Professor of History, University of Southern California
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Top Customer Reviews
Bill Boyarsky has written an incredibly colorful book about the hard-drinking California politics of the 20th century, when politicians weren't expected to live like clergymen. Boyarsky brings this era to life with oral history from the principal players throughout Unruh's life. This book is great reading, and a fascinating inside look into the personalities that once ran California.
Fully referenced and indexed, with lots of photographs, this book will be a welcome addition to any library and should become required reading for any student of California history or political science.
Unruh loved power, enjoyed playing power games, and was good at achieving power. The author admires Unruh in that while Unruh seemed obsessed with obtaining and using political power, Unruh did so because he truly wanted to help people. He was not a politician who sought influence for the sake of power. He did so with strategies to help others.
Unruh's political finagling was a main factor in the successful movement to make the California legislature into a full time job. He thought this was necessary to reduce the reliance on lobbyists and state administrators as the source of information and influence.Read more ›
Boyarsky's portrait jibes well with a growing list of books on California politicians of that period. These include John Jacobs's bio of Phil Burton, Lou Cannon on Ronald Reagan, James Richardson on Willie Brown, and Ethan Rarick on Pat Brown. "Big Daddy" is a solid contribution to an impressive collective portrait of mid-century California politics.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a biography of Jesse Unruh, California's legendary House Speaker who for years influenced national politics while towering over California politics. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Leon Czikowsky
Anyone wishing to understand California politics and the way things were done behind the scenes in a post war legislature, this is the book to read. Read morePublished on July 3, 2013 by Sandrine
A book about a moderate Sacramento politician who died in the 1980s and has been more or less forgotten might be something that could induce the reaction of "I should write down... Read morePublished on September 30, 2011 by P. Troutman