Golden: How Rod Blagojevich Talked Himself Out of the Governor’s Office and into Prison

Jeff Coen and John Chase. Chicago Review, $27.95 (496p) ISBN 978-1-56976-339-1

Chicago Tribune reporters Coen and Chase tell of the rise and fall of Rod Blagojevich—the “amiable” and “cocksure” former governor of Illinois who tried to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat in 2008. The FBI was on to his tricks beforehand, recording him secretly when “Blago” exclaimed on tape of his legal power to name a successor: “I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden,” adding, “I’m just not giving it up for fucking nothing.” Even FBI director Robert Mueller marveled to learn “the guy dropping the F-bombs” in the tapes was the governor. After a sensational trial, Blago was convicted of fraud and extortion, with a 14-year prison sentence. Coen and Chase’s authoritative account benefits from ample public records and court transcripts. Their detailed, surreal narrative features a cast that includes Barack Obama, David Durbin, Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, Tony Rezko, and the entire Democratic establishment in Illinois and Washington, D.C. All those interested in the Blago drama or political intrigue in general can dive into this book with relish. There are heroes, too, as Coen and Chase make clear. The FBI investigation and federal prosecution demonstrated strong and reassuring internal checks against corruption inside government. (Oct.)