Griffith finds little good to say about the American cities of this post-bellum period. War-bred vice, violence and corruption ruled: ""Nowhere was there a center of constructive leadership"" and money rode in the saddle. The book iterates a long, familiar list of fiscal and social irresponsibility, from vote buying to horrid sanitation, all intensified by the 1873 depression, when cities went broke and Congress abolished local self-government. Griffith sees reformists as drawing little public backing; only the immigrant population at the end of the century decided irreversibly for change. But the author gives only scanty analysis of the political motivations and support for movements like those led by Hazen Pincus of Detroit, ""Golden Rule"" Jones of Toledo, and the National Municipal League. And the references to the philosophies of Social Darwinism and pragmatism as respective guides to corruption and reform seem merely tacked on. Preoccupied with minutiae, Professor Griffith misses the forest for the greed.