From Publishers Weekly
"[Being mayor is] like being a bitch in heat. You stand still and you get screwed, you start running and you get bit in the ass," wrote John Lindsay in his 1976 roman
clef, The Edge. Elected in 1965, Lindsay was an unlikely mayor of the Big Apple: a liberal Republican and a Yale graduate, he was good-looking, sophisticated, patrician and Protestant, in contrast with former mayors who, modest in background and appearance, more closely resembled the average working New Yorker. Cannato's biography as much about New York, postwar electoral politics and "the decline of the city and the crisis of liberalism" as it is about Lindsay himself portrays a politician who valued reform over party lines, intelligence over cant, and who ultimately failed (some claim spectacularly) with the best intentions. Lindsay's mayoral career was a political obstacle race: on his first day in office, the city's transit workers went on strike; within months, to ward off a dire financial deficit, he instituted a city income tax; in the summer of 1967, racially charged riots broke out citywide and Lindsay battled the police over a civilian review board. Then, in 1968, antiwar protestors took over Columbia University, which was already at war with its neighboring black community. Lindsay weathered these fights with some success, was elected for a second term, became a Democrat and then found that his career was over. Cannato, an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, has written an exhaustive and nuanced, compulsively readable narrative, salted with measured, on-target judgments. By far the best work to be done on Lindsay, this biography is an important contribution not only to the literature on New York City but to the broader fields of urban and political studies.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Fate snubbed John V. Lindsay, the two-term mayor of New York (1966-73). A liberal Republican, Lindsay aspired to be his party's JFK, but his approach and timing were out of sync both with his party and the nation. Like LBJ, whose botched Vietnam policy parallels Lindsay's attempts at urban reform, the mayor was haunted by dreams of greatness. He made a gallant effort to expand his sphere of leadership, but the predictable political backlash doomed him to failure. In his first book, Cannato, a scholar in U.S. history and adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, traces the Lindsay political disappearance to a failed liberal ideology. His is an ambitious work that integrates Lindsay's biography with a modern history of New York City. Ironically, the author's approach mirrors that of the mayor he liberally critiques it displays more style than substance. Despite the superficial explanations, this is a readable and useful book on modern New York politics. Recommended for public and academic libraries with urban collections. William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.