cover image First Son: The Biography of Richard M. Daley

First Son: The Biography of Richard M. Daley

Keith Koeneman. Univ. of Chicago, $30 (392p) ISBN 978-0-226-44947-0

The name Daley is synonymous with modern Chicago. The elder Richard was mayor for 21 years, and his son—the subject of this dynamic biography—held the same post for 22. They manned the helm of the Windy City for decades and set the precedent for a ruthless yet remarkably productive mayoral office. Richie took his father’s tough lessons and political crises to heart, eventually overshadowing him by transforming the gritty industrial town rocked by racial problems into today’s gleaming park-filled metropolis, which echoes the grandeur of the Chicago that played host to the World’s Fair over a century ago. Native son Koeneman colorfully and familiarly details the rise of the Daleys and their imprint on their hometown, while showing how Richie put his aggression and dogged persistence to work in support of massive anticrime, gay rights, mental health, education, and urban beautification initiatives, as well as the controversial overnight destruction of a local airport. Koeneman also demonstrates how the influence of the “First Son” expanded beyond his beloved city, especially after protégés Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, and Valerie Jarrett attained major-player status under President Obama. Buttressed by meticulous research and over 100 interviews, Koeneman’s profile is a highly focused history of a 20th-century metropolis and a compelling biography of the family that shaped it for nearly half a century. 24 pages of photos. (Apr.)