In this ripping political biography, Koeneman portrays the mayor who held office for 22 years and transformed Chicago from a gray working town into a gleaming global city. The story of the second Mayor Daley begins with the first, and Koeneman reveals exactly how the father ushered his oldest son into politics while keeping him on a tight leash. Young Rich, awkward and arrogant, also faced resentment from his peers. But as hostile as his critics are––and Koeneman, who conducted more than 100 interviews, quotes some stinging remarks––there is no denying that Daley underwent a “dramatic personal evolution” or that he cares deeply about people. As Koeneman charts the political calculations intrinsic to Daley’s rise and rule and takes a close look at his inner circle, with its ties to Barack Obama, he contrasts the epic viciousness and corruption of Chicago politics and the mayor’s own failings with Daley’s tenacity, empathy, “humanistic impulse,” and accomplishments. This brisk (though repetitive) portrait of a complex, colorful, and powerful American is a work of valuable living political history. --Donna Seaman
Dynamic, compelling biography of the Daley family that shaped Chicago for nearly half a century. Publishers Weekly
A ripping political biography. This brisk portrait of a complex, colorful, and powerful American is a work of valuable living political history - BooklistFirst-ever biography of Richard M. Daley: Keith Koeneman writes thoroughly researched review of an important career. - TimeOut Chicago
A very high quality biography of an important historical figure whose story is an important part of Chicago and American history. - Northwest Indiana Times
“Native son Koeneman colorfully and familiarly details the rise of the Daleys and their imprint on their hometown. . . . A highly focused history of a 20th-century metropolis and a compelling biography of the family that shaped it for nearly half a century.”
“A ripping political biography."
"Koeneman captures the arc of Daley's reign perfectly—its early successes and later failures, its mix of volatility and insecurity, and the evolution of an insular Democratic-machine prince from Bridgeport into a powerful leader who learned to coexist with intellectuals, culture buffs, and titans of business to build a world-class city. . . . A must-read if you care about Chicago."
(Andy Shaw, executive director, Better Government Association)
“First Son recounts an important era of Chicago’s history ruled over by one of its most powerful mayors. It is a nuanced picture of Mayor Richard M. Daley with all his contradictions and triumphs, failings and successes. Keith Koeneman concludes that 'history’s judgment [will be] that Daley’s achievements . . . outweighed his mistakes.' Whether one agrees or not, First Son should be read by all who care about the city, its history, and its politics.”
(Dick Simpson, author, professor, and former Chicago alderman)
"Koeneman’s First Son is a satisfying, engaging read for anyone who enjoys modern politics and has a heartstring or two for Chicago."
(Kenneth D. Ackerman Washington Independent Review of Books
"A valuable book, admirably fair and balanced, and vastly informative about four colorful and highly eventful decades in the life of America’s third-largest metropolis."
"First Son is a very high quality biography of an important historical figure whose story is an important part of Chicago and American history."
(Jane Ammeson Times of Northwest Indiana
“Accessible and well researched, this well-written look at the Windy City’s oft-loved, oft-controversial mayor is a compelling read.”
(Chicago Book Review