Email this review


Jim Thompson, D.A., catapulted himself to political stardom and the Illinois governor's office by prosecuting, in 1973, ex-governor Otto Kerner, the ""Mr. Clean"" of that state's notoriously unsanitized politics. It was, as Messick shows, a politically inspired prosecution for bribery, conspiracy, and perjury hatched by the Watergate team in order to discredit the Illinois machine which, Nixon felt, had cost him the 1960 election. But this is merely the beginning, or rather the denouement, of a far more complex tale. As Messick microscopically demonstrates in this stupefying tale of horseracing and political vendettas, no one in Illinois was clean. Not even William S. Miller, the Illinois Racing Commissioner and improbable soiled hero of this unedifying saga. Certainly not Marie Everett, onetime Queen of Illinois Racing, who testified both for the prosecution and the defense. Marie, with Miller's help, had some years before ""set aside"" prime racing stock for Kerner and the Illinois legislature ""out of a desire to be kind."" Later, when she turned on Miller and began squawking to the IRS about sleight-of-hand stock deals and backdated documents, Miller was to find himself labeled the ""mastermind"" of Marie's evil schemes. Messick, rather unaccountably, sees Miller as a ""reformer"" duped and outwitted. He became the foil in the Nixonian campaign against Kerner and paid dearly for his years of mediation between greedy pols and greedier gamblers. The story, which takes place over a dozen years and involves several racetracks and their tenants, Gulf and Western, and Mayor Daley's law partners, will be difficult for a non-Chicagoan to follow, but it does give a nasty picture of Illinois politics unto the second and third generation.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1978
Publisher: Green Hill Press--dist. by Caroline House (236 Forest Park Place, Ottawa, Ill. 61350)