THE COP WHO WOULD BE KING: The Honorable Frank Rizzo by Joseph R. & Peter Binzen Daughen

THE COP WHO WOULD BE KING: The Honorable Frank Rizzo

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Is he the worst mayor in the land, a Philadelphia-born Mussolini, a ""stupid, arrogant sonofabitch,"" as former Senator Joseph S. Clark once characterized him? Yes, say the authors, two Philadelphia Bulletin journalists who contend that Rizzo has the city by the neck. Their fury, though admirably contained, goes well beyond the natural animus between the press and the pols. Rizzo, as the authors elaborate in rich detail, rode to power on the crest of white working-class fears: of the blacks, of busing, of declining and ""changing"" neighborhoods, of rising taxes, and the inflationary squeeze. Daughen and Binzen show the mayor lording it over his sycophants and political dependents--from Able the aged coffee-bearer to assorted municipal officials to his own brother Joseph, elevated to Fire Commissioner over the heads of 21 higher-ranking officers. As depicted here, the mayor's overriding concerns are not the city's urgent fiscal problems or the shoddy condition of schools and hospitals, but the vilification of his, Frank Rizzo's, enemies: ""soft"" judges, ADA members, porn peddlers, and political rivals. Personal harassment by the mayor's goon squad and intimidation by cops are favorite tactics, while the legal machinations of cronies prevented the recall referendum from reaching the ballot. Was Rizzo a good cop at least? There are testimonials to that effect, but the authors raise the specter of graft and vice--Rizzo the moralist consorting with .stripper Blaze Start. A damning portrait and a journalistic tour de force, far outdistancing Fred Hamilton's Rizzo (1973), this just barely avoids the danger of polemical overkill by the sheer thoroughness of its documentation.

Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 1977
Publisher: Little, Brown