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Pay to Play: How Rod Blagojevich Turned Political Corruption Into a National Sideshow Hardcover – April 20, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee (April 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566638348
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566638340
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,125,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Chicago PBS newswoman Brackett details the latest episode in Illinois politics' long-running soap opera, the fascinating story of smooth-talking, big-haired governor Rod Blagojevich, arrested last December, who stuck a price tag on almost everything that crossed his desk. After law school and an introduction to politics by his less-than-ethical father-in-law, powerful Chicago alderman Dick Mell, "Blago" became a loud but ineffective member of the Illinois Senate, "rarely showing up for committee meetings," and often hard to find for important votes. As governor, he empowered infamously corrupt Chicago characters to oversee his kickback operations, but the red-hot core of the pay-to-play scandal was his attempt to sell President Obama's vacated U.S. senate seat. The tale continued as, free on bond, Blago executed a national media tour to establish his virtue and victim-hood. Blago's ensuing impeachment, an Illinois first, is buttressed by a number of sideshows, including a suburban hospital sting, a government push to fire critical Chicago Tribune editors, and Blago's final act of power, appointing politico Raymond Burris to the infamous Senate seat. This passenger-seat view of Blago's wild ride is not only remarkably thorough (especially given Brackett's quick turnaround), but a surefire political page-turner. B&w photos.


A surefire political page-turner. (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)

A lively account of the tragi-comedy that culminated in the governor's impeachment. (Baltimore Sun)

New book offers clues to what makes Blagojevich tick. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Rod Blagojevich biography serves up meaty morsels. (Chicago Tribune)

A fascinating read. (The State Journal-Register, (Springfield, Il))

What's most fascinating is the discovery that people were weirded out by him long before he started quoting Tennyson and jogging around Ravenswood Manor with camera crews in tow. His hair, his Elvis obsession, his near-bipolar personality... But the former guv should thank Brackett for sketching such a humane portrait. (Time Out Chicago)

Rod Blagojevich's feet are about to get held to the fire (again) in [Pay to Play: How Rod Blagojevich Turned Political Corruption into a National Sideshow by Elizabeth Brackett] that paints the ousted Illinois governor as an ego-driven liar who kept his staff in the dark, cursed the press and was so inconsiderate, he showed up late to a state funeral. (New York Post)

Details a strange, dizzy fall. (Tulsa World)

Pays particular attention to the shocking traditions of corruption in Illinois politics that served as a model for Blagojevich. (Sun-Sentinel, (Florida))

It appears Chicago journalist Elizabeth Brackett is poised to beat Rod Blagojevich in the race to publish a tell-all account of the embattled ex-governor's fall from grace. (Review Of Higher Education)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Elaine M. Spencer on July 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I work for the State of Illinois and can vouch for the fact that the antics of Governor "Blago" were well known long before the FBI came knocking on his door. After reading this book I actually had a little more sympathy and understanding for him and where he came from -- along with an even stronger conviction that he should never have been elected governor even once, let alone twice. The rest of the country should be grateful he never realized his presidential ambitions!

Elizabeth Brackett took on quite an heroic task trying to put out a reasonably comprehensive "instant book" on Blagojevich in a short period of time. The book is a pretty quick read but you can tell it was rushed into print -- there are some errors here and there. For obvious reasons the story seems incomplete (since there is nothing in it about the indictments, the outcome of the perjury investigation against Roland Burris, etc.).

I hope Brackett will come back with a sequel or expanded version of this book after Blago's trial next year.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T. Jaworowski on May 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Having read this book unlike the person who gave just 1 Star, I can say this a great book on Illinois Politics and the Pay to Play System. Reading this book you will learn Blagojevich's background and than get a seance of what he does and why he does it. He reminds me a lot of Nixon personality wise.

They both kept lists of enemies, If you did something they didn't like, Blago and Nixon will get payback to you when they got power and wearily enough they were both avid runners and they both ran together in NYC after Nixon left office.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hunt on April 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's hard to imagine a recent officeholder with more hubris, moxy and chutzpah than former Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich. But he does exist, (still) in real time, and Elizabeth Brackett's fine new book, "Pay to Play" follows the rise and fall of America's most out of touch politician. This is as much about the substance of the charges that brought him down as it is about the style to which he had become accustomed. Ignoring reality, Rod Blagojevich sealed his own fate in stone. When one of your heroes is Richard Nixon, can impeachment be far behind?

Blagojevich grew up in a sturdily, conservative ethnic household and the first question a reader might ask after finishing the first few chapters is what his father would have made of his son's shenanigans. Indeed, Blagojevich didn't need his own nuclear family to get ahead...he married into one...and the damage kept on going. The governor loved campaigning, hated the act of actually governing, but always made sure he was surrounded by "money" people. His greed became part of his downfall, but Blagojevich's detachment from reality really puts the icing on the cake in "Pay to Play".

While the former governor's legal woes continue, we at least have a continuation of the drama...that of the newly-appointed Illinois senator, Roland Burris. This seems to be "the gift that keeps on giving". What was his role in getting the seat and how were other potential candidates involved? Stay tuned. I recommend "Pay to Play" and hope for a sequel!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By LEON L CZIKOWSKY on October 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author writes that aides to Governor Rod Blagojevich sought to financially gain from people desiring Gubernatorial appointments. This became a norm that continued through an attempt to make a financial deal for a vacant U.S. Senate seat. These deals have led to the indictment of Rod Blagojevich.

Blagojevich is seen as someone who enjoyed the political game yet did not like holding office. He took a populist approach to politics where he reached out to voters. Yet he failed to make connections with other office holders that might have helped him advance a governing agenda. Thus he had few political allies when his troubles developed. The State Senate impeached him by 59 to 0.

There were allegations that Gubernatorial appointments improperly went to campaign contributors. The Governor's father in law was among those making the charges. The FBI wiretapped Blagojevich and overheard him declaring he wanted something in return for his U.S. Senate appointment. He was also recorded stating he wanted campaign contributions in return for state-awarded contracts and employment, which is known as "pay to play".

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzpatrick led an investigation into public corruption. Robert Grant of the FBI declared "if Illinois isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it's certainly one hell of a competitor." Illinois politics has historic roots in corruption. The previous Governor George Ryan was convicted of corruption. It was surprising to the author that the new Governor similarly acted in a corrupt manner, especially as numerous local officials were also convicted for improperly making political hires, and it was thought that should send a warning to others.
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Format: Hardcover
Now that Governor Blagojevich has been convicted and headed to prison it should be pointed out that this book indicated he was headed in that direction and to that end the author can be proud of the research done for the report. Pay to Play is a great title and is an indictment of the corruption going on in Illinois. If the general public only knew about the shennanigans being pulled off by the Chicago Teachers Union and a state board (IELRB)more trials would come about. The book does not get into how high ranking state officials look the other way in order to avoid laws that would, if followed, have great effect on their re-elections. When FBI Special Agent in Charge in Chicago, Robert Grant said, "If Illinois isn't the most corrupt state in the country, it is one helluva competitor." Norman Jones, Ed. D. author of Growing Up in Indiana: The Culture & Hoosier Hysteria Revisited and Main St. vs. Wall St.: Wake-up Calls for America's Leaders.
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