In First Son, Keith Koeneman chronicles the sometimes Shakespearean, sometimes Machiavellian life of an American political legend. Making deft use of unprecedented access to key players in the Daley administration, as well as Chicago’s business and cultural leaders, Koeneman draws on more than one hundred interviews to tell an up-close, insider story of political triumph and personal evolution.
But in spite of his many accomplishments, Richard M. Daley’s record is far from flawless. First Son sets the dramatic improvement of certain parts of the city against the persistent realities of crime, financial stress, failing public housing, and dysfunctional schools. And it reveals that while in many ways Daley broke with the machine politics of his father, he continued to reward loyalty with favors, use the resources of city government to overwhelm opponents, and tolerate political corruption.
A nuanced portrait of a complex man, First Son shows Daley to be sensitive yet tough, impatient yet persistent, a street-smart fighter and detail-driven policy expert who not only ran Chicago, but was Chicago.
Keith Koeneman holds advanced degrees from Harvard University, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University and writes on Chicago politics, history, and culture for the Huffington Post.
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