Title Profile & Character Information

First Son

Richard M. Daley was Chicago's longest-serving mayor and, love him or hate him, one of the city's most powerful and transformative leaders. Keith Koeneman's biography will be the first book to tell Daley's story, and it is based on extensive archival research, interviews with some very hard-to-reach people, and deep knowledge of Chicago history. Koeneman follows Daley from his youth as a Bridgeport kid who lacked the talent and charisma of his father through his early immersion in the city's Democratic machine, to the personal evolution that began when the elder Mayor Daley died in 1976. We watch Daley navigate strong figures like Ed Burke and Jane Byrne to become State's Attorney in 1980 and mayor in 1989, and we see in these political battles a man distinguishing himself from his father and from the machine politics into which he was born. As mayor, Koeneman shows, Daley honed his considerable political skills while evolving into a talented chief executive, the clearest evidence of which is the physical transformation of Chicago's downtown and lakefront areas. Yet, Koeneman sets the often dramatic improvement of certain parts of the city alongside the persistent realities of crime, racial inequality, public housing, and non-functioning schools--all of the "unfinished business" handed down from father to son.  The book's assessment of the man himself is similarly mixed: if Daley evolved tremendously as a person and as a professional during his time in office, he could also fall back on tried-and-true Chicago politicking: rewarding loyalty with favors, using the resources of city government to overwhelm opponents, and tolerating (at the least) political corruption. This is a very well written and well paced trade biography that is certain to find an audience among those interested in Chicago history, politics, or any of the many fascinating figures who roam these pages--including the young Barack Obama.

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