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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
What a wise and insightful book, one that raises questions with special resonance in 2016, when our political system has delivered a presidential race matching a crook against a... Read morePublished 16 days ago by Theresa Treasure
Gives both sides of the life of a politician. Super read about the urban political machine and why some of them still exist.Published 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
This is funny, if you have reached the ability to laugh about our corrupt politicians, instead of cry. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Deborah
As good as you'd expect from something you have to read for a class.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
REQUIRED READING FOR THE GUTS, CORE ISSUES OF URBAN ECONOMICSPublished 7 months ago by GERARD LA TOURNERIE
Interesting political philosophy. Very superficial - you do not to dedicate much time to understanding the thinking. Read morePublished 10 months ago by HHI Buckeye
Quick lite read, interesting look at Tammany politics. 5 starsPublished 14 months ago by mike porter
the more things change the more they stay the same
did i hear you say non-profit, plunked would say thats honest graft
I liked the book very much. It was interesting to get a vision of government from the Plunkets Tammany Hall perspective. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Ronald