Fire on the Prairie: Chicago's Harold Washington and the Politics of Race

Gary Rivlin, Author Henry Holt & Company $24.95 (442p) ISBN 978-0-8050-1468-6
The first black mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington, who died in office in ok? 1987, welded a multiracial coalition that replaced the corrupt political machine put in place by ex-mayor Richard Daley during his 21-year tenure. Washington's embattled administration was, in the author's judgment, ``a grand experiment with national ramifications,'' an assessment not entirely borne out by the facts in this engrossing behind-the-scenes account of the mayor's narrow electoral victory in 1983, the racial backlash his rule inspired and the rancorous City Council wars that deadlocked his reforms and almost subverted his program. Rivlin, who covered local politics for the Chicago Reader , blasts the press for stereotyping Washington as ``racially polarizing'' and for insinuating that his coalition was rotten. The book witheringly portrays Jesse Jackson as an ultra-ambitious, cunning opportunist who claimed undue credit for Washington's election. Rivlin's corrective critique provides a much-needed perspective on Chicago's racially divisive politics. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/02/1992
Release date: 03/01/1992
Paperback - 978-0-8050-2698-6
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