Cover image for Big Bill Thompson, Chicago, and the politics of image
Title:
Big Bill Thompson, Chicago, and the politics of image
Author:
Bukowski, Douglas, 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Urbana : University of Illinois Press, [1998]

©1998
Physical Description:
273 pages, 12 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Cowboy to commodore -- Reform images -- The apparent war critic -- More images : race, place, and politics -- New appeals, temporary retreat -- Reform comes to town -- A machine without Democrats, a demagogue before Long -- Victors' history : Capone, Thompson, Depression -- Changing roles.
ISBN:
9780252023651

9780252066689
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library F548.5.T48 B85 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

A brilliant chameleon of a politician, Thompson could move from pro- to anti-prohibition, from opposing the Chicago Teachers Federation to opposing a superintendent hostile to it, from being anti-Catholic to winning, in huge numbers, the Catholic vote.

Shape-shifter extraordinaire, Thompson stayed in power by repeatedly altering his political image. In Big Bill Thompson, Chicago, and the Politics of Image, Douglas Bukowski captures the essence of this wily urban politico as no other biographer or historian has. Using materials accessible only thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, Bukowski has fashioned an unforgettable story of a volatile Chicago leader and his era. And he does it with such grace and in such an irresistible style that readers will yearn to visit the local speakeasy and lift a glass to colorful politicians gone by.


Summary

There are politics, politicians, and scandals, but only in Chicago can any combination of these spark the kind of fireworks they do. And no other American city has had a mayor like William Hale "Big Bill" Thompson, not in any of his political incarnations. A brilliant chameleon of a politician, Thompson could move from pro- to anti-prohibition, from opposing the Chicago Teachers Federation to opposing a superintendent hostile to it, from being anti-Catholic to winning, in huge numbers, the Catholic vote. Shape-shifter extraordinaire, Thompson stayed in power by repeatedly altering his political image. In Big Bill Thompson, Chicago, and the Politics of Image , Douglas Bukowski captures the essence of this wily urban politico as no other biographer or historian has. Using materials accessible only thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, Bukowski has fashioned an unforgettable story of a volatile Chicago leader and his era. And he does it with such grace and in such an irresistible style that readers will yearn to visit the local speakeasy and lift a glass to colourful politicians gone by.


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Bukowski, a Chicago local historian, has written a concise, readable, generally evenhanded, and thoroughly enjoyable political biography of three-term Chicago mayor "Big Bill" Thompson. Although he almost completely neglects the mayor's personal life, the author paints a forceful portrait of a politician as complex as he was colorful. Bukowski is a moderate in his view of "Big Bill." Bukowski rejects the image of Thompson as a friend of Al Capone and a compatriot of gangsters, but he also fails to see him as a true Progressive or a civic reformer. He charts Thompson's rise in city politics from his election as alderman in 1901 to his three successful campaigns for mayor in 1915, 1919, and 1927. In addition, he chronicles Thompson's unsuccessful bid for the US Senate in 1918 and his continued aspirations for higher office. Thompson's pet issues and techniques are explored, including his opposition to the British Crown and all things English, support for Irish independence, early advocacy of playground facilities, and above all, his backing of the Burnham Plan, which entailed continuing massive building projects for Chicago. Thompson's legacy rests most securely as a builder of municipal and public edifices. Less attractive were his ideological contradictions and the bag of politician's tricks he used to perpetuate himself in power. Upper-division undergraduates and above. S. K. Hauser Marquette University


Choice Review

Bukowski, a Chicago local historian, has written a concise, readable, generally evenhanded, and thoroughly enjoyable political biography of three-term Chicago mayor "Big Bill" Thompson. Although he almost completely neglects the mayor's personal life, the author paints a forceful portrait of a politician as complex as he was colorful. Bukowski is a moderate in his view of "Big Bill." Bukowski rejects the image of Thompson as a friend of Al Capone and a compatriot of gangsters, but he also fails to see him as a true Progressive or a civic reformer. He charts Thompson's rise in city politics from his election as alderman in 1901 to his three successful campaigns for mayor in 1915, 1919, and 1927. In addition, he chronicles Thompson's unsuccessful bid for the US Senate in 1918 and his continued aspirations for higher office. Thompson's pet issues and techniques are explored, including his opposition to the British Crown and all things English, support for Irish independence, early advocacy of playground facilities, and above all, his backing of the Burnham Plan, which entailed continuing massive building projects for Chicago. Thompson's legacy rests most securely as a builder of municipal and public edifices. Less attractive were his ideological contradictions and the bag of politician's tricks he used to perpetuate himself in power. Upper-division undergraduates and above. S. K. Hauser Marquette University


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