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Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics Hardcover – March 3, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-0871403759 ISBN-10: 0871403757 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Liveright; 1 edition (March 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871403757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871403759
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Rooted in Jeffersonian democracy and transformed by the massive Irish immigration of the mid-nineteenth century, Tammany Hall, New York City’s Democratic organization, became synonymous with machine politics. Golway joins the revisionists in emphasizing Tammany’s constructive contributions and its consequent impact on modern politics. An expert in Irish-American history, Golway unsurprisingly sees the origins of this form of political organization in Irish anti-institutional activism. In overcoming and battling nativism in America, reaching out, albeit not selflessly, to new immigrant groups and, after the Triangle Shirtwaist tragedy of 1911, supporting progressive social programs both at the local level and legislatively, Tammany thrived well into the 1900s. After the strong leadership by “Silent Charlie” Murphy came the ascendancy of governor and presidential candidate Al Smith. The organization became, through Senator Robert F. Wagner, a major factor in the New Deal and, later, American liberalism. Not ignoring instances of corruption large and small, from Boss Tweed to Jimmy Walker (Tammany coined the concept of “honest graft”), Golway makes his case for Tammany’s impact eloquently. In doing so, he has provided an essential addition to the historical literature of New York and urban America. --Mark Levine


“Golway’s revisionist history chips away at Tammany Hall’s calcified reputation and reveals that the Democratic machine that produced Boss Tweed-era corruption was also a force for worthy reform.” (Amy Finnerty - The New York Times Book Review)

Machine Made tells an important but forgotten story—of how American politics once worked for the poor and weak rather than, as today, only for the rich and powerful.” (Kerby A. Miller, author of Emigrants and Exiles)

“Terry Golway’s Machine Made delivers a refreshingly revisionist verdict on the Irish-dominated Democratic organization whose ring reverberated mightily in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and then faded into a faint echo… If Boss Tweed and Richard Croker remain the defining faces of Tammany, Mr. Golway… advances a breezy and convincing case that Al Smith, Senators Robert F. Wagner and Herbert Lehman, and their mentors, Tom Foley and Charles Francis Murphy, deserve distinguished pedestals in that pantheon, too.” (Sam Roberts - The New York Times)

“A work that knowledgeably readjusts Tammany’s reputation from a nest of corruption to an important crusader for the poor and downtrodden.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“[A] valuable and enjoyable analysis describing how the political machine changed the role of government—for the better to millions of disenfranchised recent American arrivals… [The] legacy Mr. Golway is so passionate about is undeniable. Tammany Hall, for all the many flaws of its leaders, helped create a welcoming environment for immigrants, making New York and the United States the beacon of hope for those seeking a better life… Now, that’s a legacy worth remembering.” (Steven Fulop - The New York Observer)

Customer Reviews

Anyone interested in politics will find a lot to enjoy and learn from reading this book.
Stephen T. Hopkins
Tammany stood against this mistreatment and, like labor unions, should be recognize as one of the major reasons there is a current middle class in America.
William J. Hunault
The story is told through through incisive and eloquent portraits of the key players and the situations of those who voted with them.
John Ashcraft

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By NYFB [Je suis Charlie ET Ahmed] TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Between 1845 to 1855, out of 8 million Irish, 2 million left Ireland during famine. Majority of those Irish immigrants who migrated to US did not speak English and were not treated with respect back in Ireland either. Tammany embraced these immigrants while the opposition party considered them not worthy of US Citizenship. What democrats did then with success is the same as what they have been attempting to do in regard to immigration at the current times without any success, offering recognition to immigrants in hope of votes. This is a great book if you like politics since you get to experience politics and corruption among many other activities in a much bigger scale with few shady characters. There are other writings about Tammany as well but regardless Tammany was a big era of US politics and entertaining to read about even after some 150 years later only if presented well which this writer has done successfully.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alastair MacAndrew on March 31, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have just finished Reading this very interesting book, and congratulate T. Golway for producing a highly readable and well-documented history , and also helping clear up the origins and evolution of an institution looked down upon by many. Having landed as an Irish immigrant myself in New York in the 70s, I identified with the characters portrayed in the book and it gave me great insight into the history of my forefather's journey to that great city in the previous century. New York has always been special for the irish; as former president McAleese said: "it was the next parish".
Golway describes only too well what it meant to be a second-class citizen in the Anglo-Protestant world from which these immigrants came, and how that experience contributed to their desire to exercise to the full in their new home, the rights which they had been denied in their native land, above all that of political power. This was even more so as they confronted the same anti-Catholic Anglo-Protestant bigotry in the New York to which they arrived. ( The author describes this last aspect very well, and above all, the very Calvinist view these NY elders had of poverty, its causes and remedies ) Golway points out the manner in which these impoverished immigrants took over the Society of St Tammany and the seat of the Democratic Party in Manhattan, and the breadth and depth of political structure and organization they set up, in the days before mass media, polling,TV debates and the like. No other i group achieved anything close to it, and Malcom X, in the days before the Civil Rights legislation, lamented that if only the black people had something like Tammany, their story in America would have been very different.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sinohey TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
"The benefits that Tammany Hall brought to New York and to the United States outweigh the corruption with which it is associated.", according to Terry Golay who gives a more sympathetic view of the political machine of the Democratic Party in New York.
The book explains the origins of the organization in the late eighteenth century, "The Society of Saint Tammany" by Aaron Burr et al. and how it evolved into the controlling cabal of New York city politics for over a century. It was supposedly named after Chief Tamanend, William Penn's friend. He was suggested as a candidate for sainthood for his efforts to promote peace and friendship between the settlers and the natives, and is often referred to as the "Patron Saint of America"; but he was never beatified/canonized by the Catholic Church.

Tammany Hall was ruled by a succession of opportunistic, self-serving corrupt politicians such as the legendary William "Boss"Tweed (1823 -1878) who sold city contracts and patronage jobs and "enormous rents the city was paying for facilities linked to Tweed and his friends -- including a portion to Tammany Hall." and extracted a 15% "overcharge/tax" from businessmen plying their trade. The Times gave details of corruption "which even Tweed's harshest critics could not have imagined."
He was estimated to have amassed $25 to 45 million by the time of his arrest, now believed to be almost $200 millions. He died in prison at age 55 years.
Richard Croker, Sr (1843-1922) was born in Ireland and came to New York as a child. An ambitious hard working lad, he got himself an education and a city job. Eventually Croker became part of Tammany Hall and ended up running the "Machine" for several years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John A. M. TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most books on Tammany Hall and Democratic machine politics in general paint a picture of corruption and malfeasance. While this book includes these elements, particularly with respect to Boss Tweed, it spends much more time on the relationship between Tammany Hall and immigrants, particularly the Irish who were driven out of Ireland by the Potato famine of the 1840’s. Tammany Hall is depicted as the organization that the Irish immigrant had to turn to, given that there was no organized governmental program to help them. Tammany Hall would help find you a job, would provide food and emergency housing and in return expected your vote. The dark side of Tammany Hall, and what is focused on in most books, is what happened when Tammany Hall members were elected. Much more of this book is focused on the support that Tammany Hall gave to the immigrant population of New York City.

I found the book to be well written and quite informative. While the focus was largely on Tammany Hall in the 19th century it also covers Tammany Hall in the 20th. The book tells of the rascals like Boss Tweed and the reformers like Francis Perkins, who understood the good the organization did as well as the corruption that is fostered. It discusses all the Tammany Bosses - all the way up to the last boss, Carmine De Sapio. It discussed FDR’s relationship to Tammany Hall and how he started out as a reform Democratic enemy, but grew to become a supporter. The book also discusses Al Smith, who was a Tammany member who supported FDR, but became a critic and even opponent.
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Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics
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