A Prayer for the City

Buzz Bissinger, Author, H. G. Bissinger, Author, Robert Clark, Photographer
Buzz Bissinger, Author, H. G. Bissinger, Author, Robert Clark, Photographer Random House (NY) $25.95 (408p) ISBN 978-0-679-42198-6
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-679-74494-8
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When Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell took office in 1992, he inherited a city on the brink of bankruptcy, reeling from racial unrest, violent crime, a floundering school system and middle-class exodus. How this politician, born and raised in New York City, nurtured Philadelphia back to a semblance of health is the theme of this heartfelt, involving book. Bissinger, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and now a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, credits Rendell with giving the city's economy a jump-start through a draconian five-year fiscal plan that involved budget austerity. The author, who had virtually unlimited access to the mayor and his staff from 1992 to 1995, gauges the impact of Rendell's administration by following the personal lives of five Philadelphians. One is David Cohen, the mayor's chief of staff, who helped wrest major givebacks from the unions. Equally unflappable are welder Jim Mangan, father of six, perturbed by the navy yard's imminent closing; Fifi Mazzccua, a diabetic woman caring for four great-grandchildren, resolute in the face of her son's lifetime prison sentence for murder and a grandson's death in a shoot-out; Michael McGovern, the city's zealous criminal prosecutor; and iconoclastic Linda Morrison, director of Philadelphia's competitive contracting program. Bissinger's unflinching report is an inspirational saga for those who care deeply about the crisis of America's cities. Photos. Author tour. (Jan.)
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