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Waiting for Gautreaux: A Story of Segregation, Housing, and the Black Ghetto Hardcover – January 30, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; 1st edition (January 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810123444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810123441
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,474,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The drama of 20th-century American race relations played itself out, Polikoff contends, in two theaters: in the South through the Civil Rights movement and in the North through the struggle over housing segregation. This text traces almost 40 years of the latter drama through Gautreaux v. CHA and HUD, the landmark Chicago public housing suit brought on behalf of underprivileged black families seeking housing outside of the predominantly black ghetto. Polikoff, who successfully argued the case locally and federally, bookends his memoir with reflections on the history of race relations from Reconstruction to Clinton. But the heart of the book rests with Gautreaux's endless legal maneuvering and policy implications. Polikoff occasionally gets bogged down in legal analysis—even the most dedicated lay reader will probably have a difficult time with the nuances of his climactic Supreme Court victory. Far more often, though, Polikoff provides just enough insight and detail to keep the text fresh and engaging. He moves seamlessly between broad topics—like the phone "lottery" for Gautreaux program housing—and vivid anecdotes, including one woman's joyful, minutes-long laughter upon winning in that lottery. Polikoff animates his story with humanity and intelligence, often transcending memoir to provide an indispensable addition to the history of civil rights in the United States. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"This is an inspiring and fascinating book. The story of Alex Polikoff and his forty-year crusade to bring the constitutional promise of equality to public housing is dramatic evidence that lawyers--and the law--can still be a force for progress in the United States." --Scott Turow

"Somewhere along the way, we lost sight of the dream of integration. Not Alex Polikoff. In <i>Waiting for Gautreaux</i> he tells the compelling story of his personal quest for fairness and openness in housing. Both moving and informative this is history as it should be. Polikoff is a modern-day hero." --Alex Kotlowitz


"With the same thoroughness and tenacity he demonstrated in the lawsuit, Alex Polikoff traces the ups and downs of the Gautreaux litigation. If you want to understand the past, present, and future of public housing in this country, you need to read <i>Waiting for Gautreaux.</i>" --Abner J. Mikva, Former Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. H. Sheldon on January 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is excellent portrayal of the events around the saga that was the Gautreaux case. Not only did this case change the law, but ultimately thousands of lives in the city of Chicago. Alex Polikoff's narrative is easy to read and he reveals an insider's perspective of the machinations in the halls of power from Mayor Daley's City Hall to the Supreme Court of the United States. For anyone acquainted with or interested in segregation, urban development, and welfare reform, this book represents an excellent addition to one's library.
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By Douglas on April 20, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not only a"great read" but a thrilling story of one good man's (and superb lawyers)
40 year fight against Racial segregation in housing.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James A. Long on June 4, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a memoir, it is not really an objective review of affordable housing issues. Polikoff comes at this from a certain political perspective, but regardless of how one feels about public housing and the people who live in public housing, Gautreaux is primarily a story about a city agency that broke the law and Polikoff's struggle to enforce a court order to remedy the actions of the city.

I very much enjoyed the book, but I too come from a certain political perspective. My biggest gripe with the book was that Polikoff admits the mistakes that were made in the case, but he doesn't really explore the implications of those mistakes, which, in my opinion, were significant.
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