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Mayor Corning: Albany Icon, Albany Enigma Paperback – September 7, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In his youth, Erastus Corning 2d was a close friend of Nelson Rockefeller; his father was lieutenant governor of New York (and ran unsuccessfully for the top spot against FDR), and his grandfather was a railroad rival of Cornelius Vanderbilt. With a pedigree like that, Corning might have been expected to make a splash on the national stage. Instead, he seemed content to remain mayor of Albany, New York, for a mind-boggling 42 years, involving himself in the minutia of running the state capital and--incidentally--maintaining one of the best-oiled and longest-running political machines in the country. Paul Grondahl, a reporter for the Albany Times-Union, chronicles Corning's unusual life and times in Mayor Corning: Albany Icon, Albany Enigma.

Even for those readers unfamiliar with either the man or the city he ran, Mayor Corning makes for interesting reading. Not only is Corning himself a fascinating character--his nearly lifelong relationship with a woman not his wife is refreshingly ambiguous in this age of in-your-face political sex scandal--but the inner workings of Albany politics he describes hark back to an earlier era of Tammany Hall-style corruption, fraud, and influence peddling, the likes of which are seldom seen today. Interesting characters, compelling stories, and a healthy dose of shady dealing--Mayor Corning has it all. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

features more than enough compelling characters, fascinating anecdotes, and corrupt machine politics to keep the narrative humming. Chronogram
This is an important book for Albany, for anyone interested in political power. from the Introduction by William Kennedy
a highly readable, meticulously researched and illuminating history of some fascinating and shadowy byways in the politics of the Empire State. The New York Times Book Review
Grondahl evokes his subject with novelistic assurance. The New Yorker
New York named the tallest building in the state north of the Big Apple Corning Tower because it was an apt description of the stature of Mayor Corning. Paul Grondahl s book makes this clear: it is detailed, accurate and eminently readable. Mario M. Cuomo
Mayor Corning is a biographical feast. Here journalism at its finest merges with the art of the novelist. The book indeed resembles a series of fascinating, interlocking novellas. R. W. B. Lewis, author of Edith Wharton: A Biography"
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 626 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press (September 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791472949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791472941
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,223,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Grondahl is an award-winning reporter for the Albany Times Union, where his in-depth articles have won numerous local, state and national journalism awards. His assignments have taken him from the Arctic to Antarctica; Northern Ireland to sub-Saharan Africa. He covered the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers from Ground Zero on 9/11 and reported on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Learn more about his writing projects at www.paulgrondahl.com.

He is the author of several books, including the critically acclaimed "Mayor Corning: Albany Icon, Albany Enigma" and "I Rose like a Rocket: The Political Education of Theodore Roosevelt." He was born in 1959 in Tacoma, Wash. and earned a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Puget Sound and a master's in English literature from the University at Albany. He has appeared on C-SPAN's "About Books" and has been named Author of the Year by the Albany Public Library and Guilderland Public Library. He is an adjunct professor in the Africana Studies Department at UAlbany, where he teaches a popular course titled "Culture, Diversity & the Human Condition."

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating political biography of the man who served as mayor of Albany for over 40 years.' as such he was the longest serving mayor of any major American city.
Mr. Grondahl offers his readers a lengthy over 500 page study of Mr. Corning. The volume is accompanied by a fine bibliography and end notes.
Corning was an unsual big city politico, a true American aristocrat a descendant of an old American railroad and banking family, who graduated Groton and Yale, who chose to allign himself with the old line working class Democratic Irish political machine in Albany which under the leadership of Dan McConnel which dominated Albany for most of the 20th century.
This book explores Cornings life and career. We have chapters dedicated to his patrimony, his years at Groton and Yale, his time in the US Army, his lifeas a summer resident in Maine.
We also learn much about his private life his marriage , his 2 children and his second family the Noonan's wife husband and children.After I finished reading this monograph I felt I knew Corning very very well.
While the author certainly does deal with Corning's service as mayor and his potiical life, there are many notable omissions in this otherwise fine study.
We learn very little about the changing landscape of the Albany political scene. Like all cities Albany gained a large Black population in the 1950's . What was the relatioship between Corning and his handlers to this group. This is dealt with in several paragraphs, wheras Corning the sportsman and fisherman gets at least a whole chapter.
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By A Customer on June 10, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Grondahl captures the man, his personal world and his public world, notably Albany New York. The book will be good reading for anyone but especially fascinating to people interested in politics. Corning was a great character. A patrician who had the common touch and whose office was readily available to anyone, and immensely charming. Many otherwise savvy people--like Governor Cuomo--- have glossed over the tight and largely negative effect of his 42 years as mayor of Albany to cite him as a public servant exemplar.
Grondahl's biography of Corning compares to the great biographies of Robert Caro--about Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson. Authoritative, full of passion, insightful, and great story well told. Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
Even if I wasn't a political junkie, this book would have held my attention because, politics aside, its a well-written, fascinating biography of a complicated man. AS a political junkie, I was richly rewarded reading this book. I've never read a more complete examination of the exercise of political power in America. Grondahl is a skillful, honest reporter and he has done a wonderful job with this story.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book very much. There were many facets of the Mayors life, that as a long time resident of the city had been unknown to me. The descriptions of Groton and Yale, as well as his experiences in Maine and the Adirondacks were of great interest. I thought that his overwhelming negative effect on the city and his personal shortcomings were well described and documented. The major flaw of the book was the lack of material on the reformers, other than Republicans, who for many years led the fight for progressive government in Albany.
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Format: Paperback
Tough review of evils of political machine which did preserve peace, keep minimal governmental services going, keep taxes low and out preform the "good" governmental cities in the upstate NY. Hard to justify but it did work. His reporting is best contrasted with Wm. Kenedy's classic history Oh Albany.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Paul Grondahl's "Mayor Corning" aplty chronicles the man who dominated politics in New York State's capital city for 42 years until his death (while still mayor) in 1983. Corning was a wealthy aristocrat who nevertheless had the common touch ansd aligned himself with the O'Connell Democratic machine which ran Albany County with an iron fist for most of the 20th century. Dan O'Connell was the power behind the throne, but O'Connell and Corning developed a close political partnership. Corning also played an important role in state politics. For instance, in 1982, Corning threw is support to Mario Cuomo in the Democratic primary for governor over Ed Koch after Koch had made a disparaging comment on upstate New York. Corning took offense and backed Cuomo, who was elected governor. In his inaugural address as governor, Mario Cuomo thanks only 3 people, God, his wife, and Mayor Corning. Of course, Corning had his flaws and failures. Albany went through economic decline (as did many Upstate cities due to loss of manufacturing), and relations with the black community were always strained. Corning was not a progressive, but an old machine politician.

Grondahl paints a complete picture of the man, and its an entirely readable book.
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