A masterpiece that not only serves as a biography of Richard Daley, but shows us how the City of Chicago came to be what it is today. There have been some serious power brokers that have served as Mayors in America, but Richard Daley, in terms of acquiring and holding power, must rank at the top of that group. The book is detailed, but for those looking to see how municipal government works this might not be the book for you. In Chicago if Daley wanted it done it was done. Not a lot of grass roots organizing involved in getting decisions made and executed. The book properly focuses on how Daley's perch as Chair of the Cook County Democratic machine was just as valuable to him, in many respects, as the Mayors job, allowing him to exert control not only in Chicago, but across the entire State of Illinois. The Democratic Convention of 1968 is covered very well, and is a history that many of us are familiar with. What I learned beyond my prior understanding was how official and conscious...
This is an uneven book. In the aggregate - it gives a great feel for the history of machine politics in Chicago, the roots and rise of Mayor Daley, the careful racial segregation of public housing, etc etc. I was looking for a view into Chicago history and I got an excellent one. I would say the book is way too detailed in many parts and found myself increasingly starting to surf through the book in search of more interesting sections. The sections on the 1960s, the role of the police, the 1968 convention - those are all WOW sections. But other parts of the book were excessively detailed and dry. You have to want to know a lot about Daley and Chicago political history to make it through this. In my case I actually did, but probably not for everyone.
AMERICAN PHARAOH by Cohen and Taylor contains 614 pages and 16 pages of black and white (not glossy) photographs. The book focuses on Mr. Daley's technique of ensuring cooperation through the use of patronage jobs, and on Daley's methods for keeping black people segregated in black-only housing projects. Hundreds and hundreds of pages are devoted to race relations. However, topics relating to business development are given short shrift. Daley's methods for converting Chicago from its dilapidated state in the 1950s to the gleaming showpiece that it became in the 1970s receive only a few pages of writing. In this regard, AMERICAN PHARAOH is a strangely lopsided book.
PATRONAGE JOBS. Patronage jobs are distinguished from civil service jobs. Patronage jobs are awarded by ward bosses, while civil service jobs are not. The mayor preceding Daley (Martin Kennelly) was anti-patronage and had a war on patronage. He had insisted on using civil service exams in the hiring methods...
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