Big Bill Thompson, Chicago, and the Politics of Image
by Douglas Bukowski
University of Illinois Press, 1998
Paper: 978-0-252-06668-9 | Cloth: 978-0-252-02365-1
Library of Congress Classification F548.5.T48B85 1998
Dewey Decimal Classification 977.311042092

      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 colorful politicians gone by.
      "An excellent book, written in a lively style with a contemporary
        resonance. A first rate meditation on the image and reality of 'Big Bill'
        in the context of actual and mythological Chicago political history."
        Steven P. Erie, author of Rainbow's End: Irish-Americans and the Dilemma
        of Urban Machine Politics
      "Written with a flair and a gentle sardonicism that makes it fun
        to read, Big Bill Thompson … is a significant contribution to the
        literature of urban history and politics." -- Roger W. Biles, author
        of The South and the New Deal and Richard J. Daley: Politics, Race,
        and the Governing of Chicago

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