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*Starred Review* The story of the disgraced Illinois governor who sold the U.S. Senate seat of President Obama is well known, another fading chapter in the long history of corruption in the state. Chicago reporters Coen and Chase impart more inside knowledge than the national press has. They offer a nuanced context of political corruption overlaid with Blagojevich's extraordinarily flamboyant personality, from the profanity to the hair obsession and outsize ego. Drawing on interviews and trial transcripts, Coen and Chase provide a fast-paced and probing recollection of the rise and fall of Blagojevich and the behind-the-scene deal making that brought him down. The son of Serbian immigrants, he advanced on the strength of his charm and personality, aided by his marriage to the daughter of a powerful alderman. Colorful characters and political chicanery and manipulation add to the detailed drama of the pay to play scheme to sell Obama's seat to the highest bidder that entangled Blagojevich and other Illinois politicians, including Jesse Jackson Jr. The scheme was part of a long resume of scandalous behavior, including doling out state contracts in exchange for campaign contributions. The authors go beyond the disgrace of Blagojevich (sentenced to 14 years) to ask broader questions about how the system produces such people and why citizens elect them.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
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Chicago Tribune reporters Coen and Chase tell of the rise and fall of Rod Blagojevich-the "amiable" and "cocksure" former governor of Illinois who tried to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat in 2008. The FBI was on to his tricks beforehand, recording him secretly when "Blago" exclaimed on tape of his legal power to name a successor: "I've got this thing and it's fucking golden," adding, "I'm just not giving it up for fucking nothing." Even FBI director Robert Mueller marveled to learn "the guy dropping the F-bombs" in the tapes was the governor. After a sensational trial, Blago was convicted of fraud and extortion, with a 14-year prison sentence. Coen and Chase's authoritative account benefits from ample public records and court transcripts. Their detailed, surreal narrative features a cast that includes Barack Obama, David Durbin, Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, Tony Rezko, and the entire Democratic establishment in Illinois and Washington, D.C. All those interested in the Blago drama or political intrigue in general can dive into this book with relish. There are heroes, too, as Coen and Chase make clear. The FBI investigation and federal prosecution demonstrated strong and reassuring internal checks against corruption inside government. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.