Challenging The Daley Machine: A Chicago Alderman'S Memoir
Publish Date: 2005-04-20
Author: Leon M. Despres
Winner, 2006 Illinois State Historical Society Book Award Winner, 2007 The Hyde Park Historical Society Paul Cornell Award
Political war stories from a thorn in the side of Chicago's famous Boss
In 1955, south-sider Leon Despres was elected to the Chicago City Council-the same year that Paddy Bauler famously uttered that Chicago ain't ready for reform. Ready or not, Chicago got twenty years of reform efforts from Despres, one of the few independents in the council and the most liberal alderman in the city. His demand to cut out the corrupt sale of city driveway permits made him enemies from the very beginning. Over the years his crusades to ban discrimination, preserve Chicago landmark buildings, and gain equality for African-Americans-when Daley-beholden African-American council members refused to help-threw wrench after wrench into the Machine. And, not incidentally, changed the city.
But Challenging the Daley Machine is more than a memoir. It's a historical portrait of the way things were done under the Boss, when changing times and a changing city forced the Machine to confront the problems Despres championed. His battles against the seemingly monolithic Machine are also an inspiration to anyone who is facing long odds, but is convinced he/she is on the side of right.