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Rivlin, a journalist at the Chicago Reader during the Washington administration, presents a history and commentary on black participation in Chicago politics. Beginning with the irony of Chicago's founder and first resident, a black trapper, he chronicles the conflict between white machine bosses and the growing black community. The details of personality and politics are remarkable and, as such, Rivlin's book is a valuable account of conflicts within the black community and among leaders such as Jesse Jackson, Lu Palmer, and William Dawson, as well as between black and white. This view of Chicago politics is invaluable and a very readable contribution to the literature on the Washington years. It provides a nice counterbalance to the memoirs of Washington's supporters in Harold Washington and the Neighborhoods , edited by Pierre Clavel and Wim Wiewel ( LJ 12/91) and will be of interest to urban specialists and lay readers.-- William L. Waugh Jr., Georgia State Univ., Atlanta (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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The first black mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington, who died in office in ok? 1987, welded a multiracial coalition that replaced the corrupt political machine put in place by ex-mayor Richard Daley during his 21-year tenure. Washington's embattled administration was, in the author's judgment, ``a grand experiment with national ramifications,'' an assessment not entirely borne out by the facts in this engrossing behind-the-scenes account of the mayor's narrow electoral victory in 1983, the racial backlash his rule inspired and the rancorous City Council wars that deadlocked his reforms and almost subverted his program. Rivlin, who covered local politics for the Chicago Reader , blasts the press for stereotyping Washington as ``racially polarizing'' and for insinuating that his coalition was rotten. The book witheringly portrays Jesse Jackson as an ultra-ambitious, cunning opportunist who claimed undue credit for Washington's election. Rivlin's corrective critique provides a much-needed perspective on Chicago's racially divisive politics. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved