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Comment: Hardcover with dustjacket, in very good condition. Dedication from Ed Koch.
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Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City (Columbia History of Urban Life) Hardcover – October 14, 2010

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Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City (Columbia History of Urban Life) + Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City
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Product Details

  • Series: Columbia History of Urban Life
  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (October 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231150326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231150323
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Soffer has written a fascinating biography of New York City Mayor Ed Koch—but 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.

(Library Journal)

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 1900-01-00)


Soffer's biography is a successful exploration of the history of one of New York's most charismatic mayors. It delivers on its promises on several levels, telling the history of Ed Koch the person, analyzing his politics, and then situating the story within the radical changes of Koch's political activism. This book is well written, accessible, thoughtful, and deals with a subject many New Yorkers care deeply about.

(Sven Beckert, Harvard University, author of The Monied Metropolis: New York City and the Consolidation of the American Bourgeoisie)

More About the Author

Jonathan Soffer is associate professor of history at New York University's Polytechnic Institute, specializing in twentieth-century American urban and political history.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Steven Katz on October 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I started this book, I thought that it would be a slow and plodding reading.
Not so! It moves along nicely and really gives you an in depth look at what made
Koch the man and mayor he was. Well researched and full of the details that a
history buff would want. I am not through yet, but I love it. The author should
mimic a phrase from the subject and ask "How am I doing?" The answer is you are
doing great! Read this book and enjoy a lovely look at history.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By missed VINE VOICE on April 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Ed Koch, infamous mayor of New York City, former People's Court judge and man of the people, is a fascinating character, the kind who wouldn't even pause to think about whether or not it is wise to call a rival "crazy," and then go ahead and do it. Koch is your typical New Yorker: loud, brash, and passionate, with more chutzpah than you can shake your middle finger at. As mayor, Koch brought all of that and more to the table and, as the title of Jonathan Soffer's new biography on "hizzoner" says, rebuilt New York City.

After too many years of mismanagement and decades of racial and economic disharmony, New York City in the 1970's was a shambles. Successive mayors failed to save New York, and the infamous city that never sleeps was on a fast track to a nightmare. Enter Koch, a lawyer from Greenwich Village who enters politics, takes on Tammany Hall, becomes a Congressman, and then mayor of the Big Apple. Who but a crazy person would want the job, especially after the city rioted after the infamous blackout of 1977, which saw large swaths of impoverished neighborhoods looted and burned to the ground?

Koch was a polarizing figure during the course of his mayoralty, and Soffer's text deftly traces Koch's humble beginnings in the Bronx to his towering rise atop the world's most fabulous city. We are taken on a journey that examines Koch's personal life, his political aspirations, and the difficulties inherent in running a troubling city.

Soffer is obviously a Koch fan, however, when needed, he is rightly critical of the mayor.
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By bandit on March 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This explains the behind-the-sceans history of NYC before, during and after Koch. The author really knows this time period and puts it into a great read.
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