Richard J. Daley: Politics, Race, and the Governing of Chicago

Roger Biles, Author
Roger Biles, Author Northern Illinois University Press $38 (305p) ISBN 978-0-87580-199-5
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995

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Paperback - 292 pages - 978-0-87580-566-5
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An eternal figure in Chicago politics (his son governs the city today), Richard J. Daley would rule Carl Sandburg's ``City of the Big Shoulders'' with an increasingly heavy hand. Author Biles, who has also written on Daley's predecessor, Edward J. Kelly, portrays a politician eager to maintain the status quo, despite governing in a time of massive change. But as Daley's administration bridged the gap from the late 1940s to the 1960s, he had to face racial unrest and massive youth uprising. Daley took on Dr. Martin Luther King and Yippies, becoming, according to Biles, ever more ``ossified in his role as archdefender of the domestic order,'' and, as a consequence, he was unable to deal with the ghetto riots and the violence surrounding the 1968 Democratic convention. Daley's story turns particularly ugly when he orders police to ``shoot to kill'' during one riot, and when he usurps power at the 1968 convention. Biles doesn't just focus on local politics, showing Daley in the role of federal kingmaker as well. In 1968, Daley worked fruitlessly behind the scenes to prod Edward Kennedy to run for president, and the mayor's refusal to back Adlai Stevenson in 1964 would be a perpetual sore spot between the two. Readers will be fascinated by the detailed inner workings of the Chicago political machines, rife with patronage. But as the subtitle suggests, this is a political biography and as such fails to shed much light on the man and his more personal motivations. Photos. (July)
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