The American Mayor: The Best and the Worst Big-city Leaders by Melvin G. Holli (Paperback, 1999)
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- DescriptionThe American Mayor offers a unique ranking of the nation's big-city mayors by expert scholars. Although the mayoralty is one of the most important political executive offices, it has escaped the kind of evaluations by which scholars have ranked American presidents. Now, thanks to Melvin Holli, we have a comparable survey of the best and worst mayors, covering some 730 mayors from the big-fifteen cities, from the beginning of the modern office in 1820 to the 1990s. The poll of historians, biographers, and social scientists produced a remarkably strong consensus. Who were our best mayors? The list ranges from Boston's Great Mayor Josiah Quincy (1823 1828) to New York City's Fiorello La Guardia (1934 1945), who is first on the all-time-best list. La Guardia, a stouthearted fireplug of a man, built modern New York, fought Murder Incorporated, read the comics to children over the air during a newspaper strike, and was a symbol of ethnic probity and honesty. Sandwiched between Quincy and La Guardia are several other outstanding mayors, including Cleveland's Tom Johnson (1901 1909), Pittsburgh's David Lawrence (1946 1959), Detroit's Hazen Pingree (1890 1897), and Los Angeles's Tom Bradley (1973 1993).Taking the first-worst prize among scoundrel mayors is Chicago's William H. Big Bill Thompson (1915 1923, 1927 1931), one of the most colorful mayors in the city's history, if t the most corrupt. Big Bill, also kwn as Kaiser Bill for his pro-German stand during World War I, accepted campaign funds from gangsters including Al Capone. Also among the worst is ather Chicago mayor, Jane Byrne (1979 1983), the only woman on the list. Jersey City's Frank Hague (1917 1947) and Philadelphia's Frank Rizzo (1972 1980) are among the other table rascals who have sat in city halls.The American Mayor presents complete findings of Holli's poll in jargon-free fashion. Holli explains the results of the survey, gives biographical sketches of the ten best mayors, as well as some attention to the worst, and then uses the findings of modern leadership studies to explore mayoral success and failure. He concludes with a chapter titled Pathways to Power, in which he reviews the New York City political milieu that produced the nation's best mayor, Fiorello La Guardia, and also examines the career of the nation's most successful big-city mayor, Buffalo's Grover Cleveland, the only mayor to become president of the United States.
- Author BiographyMelvin G. Holli is Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago and author and editor of a dozen books, including Reform in Detroit: Hazen S. Pingree and Urban Politics (1969), The Biographical Dictionary of American Mayors, 1820-1980 (with Peter d'A. Jones; 1981), The Mayors: The Chicago Political Tradition (1987), Restoration: Chicago Elects a New Daley (1991), and, more recently, Bashing Chicago Traditions: Harold Washington's Last Campaign (with Paul M. Green; 1989).
- Author(s)Melvin G. Holli
- PublisherPennsylvania State University Press
- Date of Publication19/03/1999
- SubjectGovernment & Constitution
- Place of PublicationPennsylvania
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintPennsylvania State University Press
- Content Note12 illustrations
- Weight322 g
- Width152 mm
- Height229 mm
- Spine16 mm
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