BOSS: Richard J. Daley of Chicago by Mike Royko

BOSS: Richard J. Daley of Chicago

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This study gives a sharper picture of the Mayor, his policies, and his methods than did Bill Gleason's Daley of Chicago (1970), and tells us a good deal more in less space about Chicago. Royko, one of Chicago's best-known columnists with a host of anonymous privy informants, begins by describing the Mayor's daily routine. He proceeds to a reconstruction of Daley's youth which excellently captures the special flavor of his rough Bridgeport neighborhood and the Hamburg Club (which, Royko conjectures, may have pitched in against the blacks in 1919) with its rough but ambitiously white-collared proto-politicos. Cronies like At Marovitz and antagonists like Adamowski, the Boss Kelly days which gave way to expedient alliance with the Stevensonians, the dumping of predecessor Kennelley which -- to the delight of Chicago businessmen -- produced not a return to wide-open squalor but a construction boom in the Loop, huge hikes in homeowners' taxes, and (though Royko doesn't go into the big 1966 campaign) a flurry of bond issues. . . all this is described convincingly and energetically. Without either sentimentality or moralism, Royko traces the integuments of machine politics: key offices; the significance of each scandal; the way Daley has used his dual status as party chairman and mayor to consolidate a one-man rule any Soviet apparatchik would envy; and the way Dawson and Daley contained the South Side physically and politically (here Royko does wax indignant). The book does a much better job with the King episodes than Gleason, and briefly recalls the police assault on antiwar demonstrators in April 1968, as well as the Convention and the Panther-Hanrahan blowup of 1969-70. One of Royko's emphases falls on Daley's image as protector of working-class neighborhoods like the Bridgeport he still lives in, as contrasted with his record of neglecting and eradicating them. Altogether a sure winner in the home town and a prime contender outside.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1971
ISBN: 0452261678
Publisher: Dutton