Soffer has written a fascinating biography of New York City Mayor Ed Kochbut he has done so much more than that. He skillfully uses Koch's reign to tell the story of the city from 1978 to 1990, a rags-to-riches saga with many lessons for today's cities as they cope with enormous financial pressure. Whether or not you are a New Yorker, this marvelously told tale of a mayor and his city will grip you.
(Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University, author of A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America
Soffer is able to bring Ed Koch into critical focus through his narrative gaze, clean writing style, and expert use of a dazzling array of sources. By using such a colorful character as Koch, Soffer illuminates the way neoliberalism has made, remade, and unmade our urban landscape. He illuminates the importance of Koch in local and national politics and represents a larger phenomenon in America life. By thoroughly examining the politics and policies of his mayoralty, he allows us to see more clearly the world in which we live.
(Richard Greenwald, Drew University, author of The Triangle Fire, the Protocols of Peace, and Industrial Democracy In Progressive Era New York
'How'm I doin'?', Ed Koch's tagline, promised New Yorkers accountability and order after a fiscal crisis that brought the city to the verge of bankruptcy, the Son of Sam serial murders, and the racial mayhem of the July 1977 blackout. Brilliant and witty, jovial and magnetic, Koch was also a mean, stubborn, and polarizing figure. Jonathan Soffer brilliantly navigates us through the sea of local, national, and international events that created the phenomenon that is 'Hizzoner.'
(Craig Steven Wilder, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, author of A Covenant with Color: Race and Social Power in Brooklyn
Jonathan Soffer's is now the go-to book on Ed Koch and his mayoralty. Critical yet even-handed, it is lucidly written, theoretically sophisticated, and solidly sourced in interviews and archives. And it offers fresh perspectives on many aspects of New York's history in the 1960s-1990s, notably the neoliberal turn, the fiscal crisis, racial and religious relations, and the interlinked trinity of gentrification, homelessness, and redevelopment.
(Mike Wallace, City University of New York, coauthor of the Pulitzer-Prize winning Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898
New York admirers will find much to relish here, while those interested in learning how municipal governments work, especially during financial crisis, will be especially during financial crisis, will be especially enlightened by Soffer's efforts.
This fascinating, entertainingly written and illuminating book, the best piece of contemporary urban history I've read in a long time, is a marvel of even-handedness and balance.The Millions
(Phillip Lopate The Millions
Provides an invaluable resource for urbanists, historians, scholars of New York, and anyone interested in this extraordinary subject, city, and time.
(Miriam Greenberg Journal of American History
In his evenhanded treatment of the confrontational and controversial mayor, Soffer endorses the liberal indictment and fully acknowledges Koch's shortcomings. At the same time, however, the author presents a compelling brief for Koch that underscores the desperate condition of New York City in the late 1970s and argues convincingly for the mayor's decision to employ draconian measures.
(Roger Biles American Historical Review