Professor Rakove spent years as a ""participant-observer"" of the Chicago machine, even running for local office to see how the thing ticks. If he really got any inside dope, his own motto seems to be ""Don't tell no stories."" We learn that the Chicago Democrats are ""pragmatic and non-ideological,"" ruled by a ""parochial"" Irish Mafia with concessions to other ethnics, that they set up paper GOP opposition, avoid up-front decision-making, remain indifferent to outside political developments except insofar as their turf is affected, and cherish the Cook County assessor's office above all things. ""The relation between the Irish Catholic Democratic political rulers and the Anglo-Saxon Protestant Republican economic overlords"" is ""typical."" Of the effect of the 1960's federal poverty apparatus on the Daley machine, nothing is said, period; of the characters who run it, less is said more dully than in the Royko-O'Connor literature. Rakove predicts that suburban outflow will erode the county apparatus while black hacks will carry on the Daley tradition in the inner city. The machine is commended for providing down-to-earth services to the little people in the neighborhoods, despite the decrepit state of these neighborhoods as documented by Royko, et al., and with no hint of such an animal as a budget crisis. An academic gloss.