ABOUT PATERSON: The Making and Unmaking of an American City by Christopher Norwood

ABOUT PATERSON: The Making and Unmaking of an American City

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The history of Paterson, New Jersey, the author proposes, is the history of American urbanization. Founded as an embodiment of Hamiltonian republicanism, run as a private corporation by an industrial aristocracy, ultimately tom by workers' strikes, corrupted and neglected by political bosses and racketeers, abandoned by the white middle class to a powerless majority of black and Spanish speaking poor. . . . Struck by a pattern of industrialization so classic in type, Norwood tells the tale with a touch of irony, gratefully sparing us the sledgehammer polemic and self-righteousness of the social reformer. In 1966, Paterson elected a white ""boy wonder"" liberal mayor. The bulk of this book recounts the troubles of his administration, delineating the city's problematic relations with federal, state, county, and local officials, its own police, school board, and minority-group leaders. Norwood's sharp analysis is marred by his bias towards the young mayor, who proves less than effective and less than incorruptible. And the book ends on an optimistic we-shall-overcome note with the reelection of the liberal incumbent in 1969, leaving us entirely in the dark about the course of political events in Paterson during the last five years. At a time when black and ethnic politics are coming of age in so many other American cities, this truncated history seems incomplete and outdated. Norwood has ignored an obvious lesson of his in-depth study of '60's liberalism that the voters of the '70's would seem to have learned: ""limousine liberals"" are not, after all, the messiahs of the ghettos.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1974
Publisher: Saturday Review Press/Dutton