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By James L. Merriner

Chicago’s recognition for corruption is the root of neighborhood and nationwide folklore and humor. Grafters and Goo Goos: Corruption and Reform in Chicago, 1833–2003 unfolds the city’s infamous background of corruption and the countervailing reform struggles that principally did not fresh it up. greater than a local background of crime in politics, this wide-ranging account of governmental malfeasances strains ongoing public corruption and reform to its nineteenth-century democratic roots. Former Chicago journalist James L. Merriner unearths the battles among corrupt politicos and ardent reformers to be expressions of conflicting category, ethnic, and spiritual values.

 

From Chicago’s earliest years within the 1830s, the town welcomed dollar-chasing businessmen and politicians, rapidly through reformers who strived to wash up the attendant corruption. Reformers in Chicago have been known as “goo goos,” a derisive epithet brief for “good-government types.” Grafters and Goo Goos contends a definite synergy outlined the connection among corruption and reform. Politicians and reformers frequently behaved equally, their separate goals merging right into a conjoined politics of interdependency in which the road among heroes and villains grew more and more faint. the true tale, asserts Merriner, has much less to do with correct opposed to fallacious than it does with the methods the cultural backgrounds of politicians and reformers prompt their very own agendas, animating and defining one another by means of their opposition.

 

Drawing on unique and archival study, Merriner identifies constants within the fight among corruption and reform amid a welter of fixing social conditions and customs—decades of alternating battle and peace, hardships and prosperity. 3 parts of reform and resistance are pointed out: structural reform of the political method to advertise honesty and potency, social reform to supply justice to the decrease periods, and ethical reform to strive against vice. “In the problem of corruption and reform, the constants could be greater than the variables,” writes Merriner within the Preface. “The avid gamers, principles, and scorekeepers swap, yet now not the basic game.”

 

Complemented by way of eighteen illustrations, Grafters and Goo Goos is rife with surprising and fun anecdotes and peppered with the personalities of well-known muckrakers, bootleggers, mayors, and mobsters. whereas different reports have profiled notorious Chicago corruption situations and figures corresponding to Al Capone and Richard J. Daley, this can be the 1st to supply an outline acceptable for historians and normal readers alike. In reading Chicago’s infamous saga of corruption and reform opposed to a backdrop of social background, Merriner calls awareness to our consistent difficulties of either civic and nationwide corruption and contributes to bigger discussions concerning the American test of democratic self-government.

 

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