MixedThe Chicago TribuneEmanuel perhaps invents a new genre for mayoral tomes. He combines the look backwards at what happened and what might have been with a forward-looking manifesto that extends far beyond Chicago, Cook County or Illinois. Emanuel brags about what he considers his successes and downplays (or ignores) his shortcomings. More importantly, he makes an argument about the future of politics in America and the rest of the \'developed\' world, which may prove to be true: Mayors matter more than presidents or prime ministers ... Emanuel’s approach has its flaws, but he makes a compelling argument that in our current political situation, local politics and the mayors who run cities large and small do indeed matter more than ever before ... The book lacks certain formal apparatus typical of serious writing: there’s no index, only a brief \'Selected Bibliography,\' and no sources cited for quotations from other writers. Emanuel also directly quotes other mayors and politicians with whom he spoke; his readers must be generous and assume he took careful notes at the time ... Perhaps it’s just unrealistic to expect any politician to truly depict, much less grapple with, the arguments of defeated opponents or disappointed constituents ... Even for politically savvy Chicago readers, familiar with Emanuel’s record and fully opinionated about it one way or another, later sections of the book make a compelling, albeit primarily anecdotal, argument for Emanuel’s larger point ... While Emanuel’s prose won’t win any awards for suppleness or grace, the former mayor displays occasional flashes of a self-deprecating sense of humor ... Readers may or may not be impressed with everything Emanuel lines up in this book, but it should not be beyond us to see the solid argument he makes about the crucial unifying and energizing role of cities, and their mayors, in an era of national political divisiveness and paralysis.
MixedThe Wall Street Journal...all this insider knowledge is called into question by the way Mr. Mamet plays fast and loose with history. Generous readers of novels set in particular eras don’t expect precise fidelity to every fact, and small changes to the historical record are not dealbreakers. But Mr. Mamet scrambles his 1920s setting in ways even casual readers could balk at ... Assuming one can put such concerns aside, Mr. Mamet’s narrative has a powerful momentum as he explores Hodge’s conflicted inner life...Every character is defined, and defines everyone else, by race, class, gender and ethnicity. But Parlow, Peekaboo and others speak with complex, three-dimensional, fully human voices ... Mr. Mamet’s novel is alive and interesting, but enjoyment for many readers may pivot on historical veracity.
RaveThe Chicago Tribune...[a] deeply researched and brilliantly written book ... the rarest kind of book: scholarship that is accessible and captivating, genuinely fun to read. His prose sparkles, smooth and flowing, rich with metaphor and invention. Tisserand has done meticulous research as well. Herriman's contradictions and complexities are unpacked through a thoughtful and sympathetic examination of the multiple cultural contexts in which he lived and worked, from Creole New Orleans to booming New York, up-and-coming Los Angeles and the sublime deserts of Arizona. Herriman's large family and his legion of friends are depicted with insight, depth and precision.
PositiveThe Chicago TribuneNapoli's narrative skills are outstanding. She depicts Ray and Joan in vivid detail and with deep sympathy, something that's especially difficult given how neither Kroc was an especially appealing person ... One of the strengths of Napoli's narrative is the depiction of people in the Kroc orbit, from early business partners to the men (and one woman) who helped take McDonald's public ... The book would have been better, however, had it focused more deeply on Joan. Napoli brings her to life, but primarily on a surface level and mostly in the last part of the book. Her eccentricities and generosity alike are recounted, but not fully analyzed.
PanThe Chicago TribuneIn the end, however, Bair's book does not live up to this promise. Her focus on Capone's family life, marginalizing details of his criminal endeavors, is unbalanced. She pays scant attention to Capone's legacy, the ongoing history of organized crime since he helped create the Chicago Outfit. Finally, a single concluding chapter covers the 'legend,' the presence of Capone in popular culture and memory, more a gesture than an actual examination ... Al Capone still awaits the biographer who can fully untangle, and balance, the complexities of his life.
RaveThe Chicago TribuneMcGirr's well-written and accessible volume is essential because she not only recounts familiar aspects of Prohibition with insight and verve — she clearly, cogently and persuasively connects that era's politics and policies to our contemporary Prohibition: America's decades-long 'War on Drugs.'