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Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics (Signet Classics) Rei Anv Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
A reader has to be careful around Mr. Plunkitt. He exhibits attractive, quintessentially American qualities such as a smart, down-to-earth common sense, a kind of "tell it like it is" honesty and a readiness to hustle to achieve his goals. He also, however, has such negative traits as, among others, anti-intellectualism and a propensity to employ the better parts of his character in the service of very pragmatic--in the derogatory sense--goals. Yet I *like* the man, and I think most readers do. The way he talks about himself endears me to his vices and very nearly makes me forget that graft is graft, whether "honest" or not. This ability of his (or of his interviewer/editor/co-author), apart from his astute observations or the fuller appreciation he might give some readers of the politics of Tammany Hall and the patronage system, is probably the key to his book's enduring popularity. He's simply interesting, and that is enough reason to read his book.
His belief that Tammany Hall was a benevolent organization that served the poor and needy put a bemused smile on my face. After all, Plunkitt doesn't see or doesn't admit to seeing that the robbing of public funds through honest or dishonest graft is what contributed to the social problems, like unemployment, poverty and crime, which for the most part put the needy and poor in their predicament in the first place. But he absolves himself from his actions by his now-famous defense, "I seen my opportunities and I took 'em." And this is what makes Plunkitt such a congenial and magnetic man, what makes him so damned likeable. You KNOW he's a thief, you KNOW he contributed to the misery of thousands. Yet his playful, plain-speaking style, his candidness about his activities, his wit, and, at times, his goofiness, make him different from other Tammany leaders like Boss Tweed, say, or Charlie Murphy. He's more in line with Big Tim Sullivan or James J. Walker.
George Washington Plunkitt was a charmer, no doubt about it. William Riordon was obviously under his spell. And the Johnson/Boswell comparison is very valid. It is difficult to maintain the utter contempt one should have for this thief. And yet... I would have loved to have had drunk with him at Hoffmann's bar and let him speak on for hours. Like Riordon, I think I would have been hypnotized too.
NB--Peter Quinn's brilliant Introduction serves the book well.
Rocco Dormarunno, author of The Five Points
George Washington Plunkitt was a Tammany wheelhorse -- district leader, State Senator, and organization man. In a series of speeches from his favorite rostrum, the New York County Courthouse Bootblack Stand, he explained how an urban politician operates and becomes both politically and personally successful.
Everything he says in his speeches is as deadly accurate today as it was more than 100 years ago -- build up a following. Know human nature and act accordingly. Do not violate the penal code. See your opportunities and take advantage of them. Do not wear a dress suit to meet with the people. Do not drink to excess. Support the organization. Make friends across the aisle to push through policy. Reward your supporters. Do not hesitate to make deals that advance yourself and the organization. Maintain the party organization. Be there for your constituents in their times of trouble. Empower your constituents and reward their loyalty. Show patriotism.
Every one of those points is absolutely applicable to any political race today. And he said all that back in the 1880s and 1890s. All of these concepts are still being done in modern politics.
Every time a new intern comes on board my shop in the City of Newark (I do the city's press releases), I lend my copy to that intern, and tell them to read it. Sometimes they ask me to purchase it for them, which I do. A few weeks ago, I got a copy for an intern working for a big wheel in the government, and the big wheel got a look at it ahead of the intern. A few days later, the big wheel asked me to get her a copy, too...she'd never read it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is funny, if you have reached the ability to laugh about our corrupt politicians, instead of cry. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Deborah
As good as you'd expect from something you have to read for a class.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
A Tammeny Hall ward boss of a bygone era speaks with a bluntness that people crave in politicians today. Read morePublished 6 months ago by P. Turner
Quick lite read, interesting look at Tammany politics. 5 starsPublished 9 months ago by mike porter
Honest, trenchant and simply hilarious. One of my all time favorite reads. Worth it just for his stories alone.Published 17 months ago by MCW
This is a quick read that is worth the time of anyone who is interested in politics. Plunkitt's candor is eye-opening, somewhat horrifying, and often very funny.Published on January 2, 2014 by Ralph Willington
Very helpful for my history class thank you. i also found the book interesting and pretty much enlightening.i know i will do well on my essay.Published on September 25, 2013 by Keshia Miller
got it for my 14 year old grandson. Absolutely relevant today. Politics today come from politics of yesterday. The writing is candid and amusing.Published on August 6, 2013 by Amazon Customer
After reading books about the 1890's, the Roosevelts, the Vanderbilts etc. I was curious about the references to Tammany Hall...This book answered my questions..... Read morePublished on March 29, 2013 by Judy Steed-Roth