Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Larry Bennett's "The Third City"

Larry Bennett is professor of political science at DePaul University. He is the author and coauthor of numerous books, including Fragments of Cities: The New American Downtowns and Neighborhoods, Neighborhood Politics: Chicago and Sheffield, and It’s Hardly Sportin’: Stadiums, Neighborhoods, and the New Chicago.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Third City: Chicago and American Urbanism, and reported the following:
When you open The Third City on p. 99 you find a discussion of Richard M. Daley and the role he has played in Chicago’s reinvention during the past two decades. Most accounts of Richard M. Daley place him at the end of a Chicago mayoral chronology, often likening him (in many ways) to his larger-than-life father, Mayor Richard J. Daley (1955-1976), more rarely linking him to policy innovations associated with Mayor Harold Washington (1983-1987). I have taken a different approach to Richard M. Daley. In part, this is accomplished by noting how his approach to office has reflected the tactics of several “peer” mayors—notably, Rudolph Giuliani, Ed Rendell, and Richard Riordan—who during the 1990s in New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, respectively, scaled back constituent expectations, blurred partisan political boundaries, and adopted willfully pragmatic policy positions. At a deeper level, in sections of the book both preceding and following the chapter devoted to Mayor Daley, my exploration of contemporary Chicago seeks to break through the log jam of received (even if iconic) opinion on what fundamentally shapes this city, and in turn, describes the particular forces that have fundamentally reshaped the city since the middle of the 20th century. I seek to identify what is unique in Chicago’s contemporary character but also connect what is driving contemporary Chicago to the forces driving cities across the United States in the early 21st century. It is my aim, when you finish reading The Third City, that you will want to walk outside and observe your own city—it may well be Chicago, but THAT isn’t necessary—with fresh eyes and a renewed sense of what makes cities such a crucial part of our world.
Learn more about The Third City at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue