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American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley - His Battle For Chicago And The Nation (2001)

American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley - His Battle for Chicago and the Nation (2001)

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4.07 of 5 Votes: 2
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0316834890 (ISBN13: 9780316834896)
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About book American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley - His Battle For Chicago And The Nation (2001)

Richard Daley was an only child, a rarity in his Irish Catholic neighborhood in the early 1900s. Apparently he was the only kid in the neighborhood who owned pajamas. One neighbor described the Daleys as the kind of people who had fruit in the house even if nobody was sick.This book taught me about four-legged voting, which happens when a ward heeler [political worker:] accompanies a voter into the booth to supervise. If a voter took more than a few seconds in there, the ward heeler knew that the voter was not voting the straight Democratic ticket because doing that took only one lever pull. I guess that's why straight-ticket voting is no longer allowed.I also met Tubbo, tagged "The World's Richest Cop" by the newspapers, and a vote-fixer known as Short Pencil.Reading about the Airport Homes riots just about broke my heart. That's a part of Chicago history that most people don't talk about.Cohen and Taylor are also clear-eyed about Chicago politics: "Daley's success in the black wards was at least in part a quiet rebuke to the Chicago Freedom Movement and a reminder of the power of a political spoils system to deliver the votes of the poor. The goals of the Freedom Movement did not always speak to the immediate needs of poor blacks. Many did not aspire to move into hostile all-white neighborhoods or to put their children onto buses to attend schools in white neighborhoods. Daley's precinct captains, in contrast, offered things that did make a difference in their daily lives: getting welfare and public housing; assistance in navigating a confusing government bureaucracy; and, most of all, patronage jobs. Daley had relied on machine politics to overcome idealism among black voters, and the election returns showed that, at least this time, his strategy had worked."The authors aren't afraid to allow their opinions to show through: "Many cities had been torn by rioting in the wake of King's assassination, but Daley was alone in advocating that his citizens be fatally shot."The day after Daley's shoot-to-kill comments, Daley's press secretary commented, "They [the press:] should have printed what he meant not what he said." This would be funny except that Daley's comments occurred shortly before the police riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. I'm sad that Chicago was the place where the term "police riot" was coined.And as for Daley the Younger? "If I can't help my sons then they can kiss my ass," Daley the Elder said.In short, an excellent read for anyone interested in Chicago and/or power. I only wish the authors had found a better copyeditor--the first edition I have has loads of misplaced commas and some glaring typos.

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 government acts by Daley contributed to the segregated housing landscape that existed in Chicago at that time. He molded the City, and his vision did not include integration of housing. Daley, due to these policies, had to try to face down Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who came to Chicago to bring the civil rights movement to the urban north. Daley did not choose to overtly resist, but chose tactics that obfuscated his goals, promised progress, but delivered little. A fascinating book that should be read by all those interested in the acquiring and holding of power. Daley, from that perspective and on a smaller scale, rivaled LBJ as a power politician. The book honestly depicts some of the awful things he did, but does its best to give Daley some credit where it might have been due. Having just read the Tom Menino book I think it could be fairly said that Daley predated Menino in putting forward malapropisms. A couple of great ones: "Gentlemen, get this thing straight once and for all. The policeman isn't there to create disorder. The policeman is there to preserve disorder." "Today the real problem is the future."This book is highly recommended.

Do You like book American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley - His Battle For Chicago And The Nation (2001)?

Five stars for those who want to understand the Daley legacy and all of its contradictions. The book does a great job of capturing Chicago while Daley grew up - he was born in 1902 - and the hard-scrabble life ahead. The authors then do a nice job of organizing around themes, such as the battles over public housing, that provide the reader with a continuity of the topic and an understanding of the major players involved. Throughout, the authors highlight the underlying tensions of race and how it influenced almost every aspect of Daley's administration. If you love Chicago, you must read this book.

I decided to read this book because I was interested in the formation of the Chicago political machine, and its hold on Chicago. Boy, was I surprised at just how angering politics can be. The machine functions like (and nevertheless deals with) the mob. I like that all that Daley did to strengthen the greatness of Chicago, but there’s got to be a better way. He spent his whole career as a Democrat that kept african-americans in their place, but didn’t ever say anything publicly that would lessen their support of him. He did plenty of things that would have shown his true views on race, but publicly the blame was always placed on someone else. It amazes me just how bad certain areas of Chicago were (and are) because of his support -- in action only -- of segregation of neighborhoods. Long story short, the guy was a huge jerk that viewed Mayor of Chicago as the top job (not interested in a presidential run), and people kept going his way due to his political cunning, and kept them voting for him, through fear of punishment for not toeing the party line, or fear of Republicans being even worse. Seriously...jerk.

This is a solid, balanced biography. It emphasizes Daley's use of race to rise to power and rule. I spoke to two Chicago-connected friends, one of whom thinks the authors overemphasized race because it's academically fashionable to analyze through that prism. The other thinks this is wrong but because he knew some of the local players, he thought the authors were too hard on the way the Chicago-based black leadership dealt with Martin Luther King, Jr. when he went there. I don't have an outside frame from which to judge either of these criticisms, but I suspect they are both wrong. Daley used white ethnic/working class fears and resentments of African American aspirations as the core of his politics. And, without providing alternative facts to the ones Cohen and Kennedy use for their narrative, I don't know what basis my friend has for his "too hard on" criticism. I wouldn't call this a must read unless one want's/needs to know a lot about Richard J. Daley and/or Chicago in his years, but it is a serious book.

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