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

by Adam Cohen, Elizabeth Taylor

ISBN 0316834033 / 9780316834032 / 0-316-83403-3
Publisher Little, Brown and Company
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

You might say it took a village to raise this child. Richard Daley and Chicago are inseparable, and it's impossible to discuss one without at least mentioning the other. Consequently, American Pharaoh includes far more material than your average biography; this is as much the story of the city as it is of the man. Covering the years between 1902 and 1976 (that is, between Daley's birth and death), authors Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor show us a life that in some ways symbolizes the American dream: a boy from a poor neighborhood grows up to wield unimaginable power, yet never forgets his roots. But Daley's was a complicated legacy. While filling Chicago with modern architecture and affecting national politics, he was also held responsible for the segregation and police brutality that tore the city apart during the late '60s and early '70s. Throughout the book, Cohen and Taylor remind readers that Daley's real influence came from the powerful political machine he created. When he didn't like guidelines from national agencies, for example, he went directly to the presidents he helped get elected. When he got bad local press, people lost their jobs and his neighbors marched in his support. When Martin Luther King Jr. came to town, he was greeted by a handpicked organization of African American leaders with strong ties to Daley's machine. It's startling to remember that this was simply a local office; the mayor's loyalties and prejudices affected the entire country. American Pharaoh shows politics at its deepest level, and each chapter brings new insights into a complex man and the system he created in order to rule the city that made him. --Jill Lightner [via]