Harold Washington, Chicago Politics, and the Roots of the Obama Presidency
Foreword by Clarence Page
Introduction by Larry Bennett
Photographs by Marc PoKempner
Harold Washington's historic and improbable victory over the vaunted Chicago political machine shook up American politics. The election of the enigmatic yet engaging Washington led to his serving five tumultuous years as the city's first black mayor. He fashioned an uneasy but potent multiracial coalition that today still stands as a model for political change.
In this revised edition of Fire on the Prairie, acclaimed reporter Gary Rivlin chronicles Washington's legacy—a tale rich in character and intrigue. He reveals the cronyism of Daley's government and Washington's rivalry with Jesse Jackson. Rivlin also shows how Washington's success inspired a young community organizer named Barack Obama to turn to the electoral arena as a vehicle for change. While the story of a single city, this political biography is anything but parochial.
"Like Mike Royko’s Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago , Rivlin’s chronicle of Washington’s rise and power struggles has weathered the test of time as a classic Dickensian portrait of big city politics amid seismic racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic change."
—from the Foreword by Clarence Page
"Colorfully, intimately, Fire on the Prairie shames and instructs as it entertains, weaving a skein of anecdotes and vignettes into a civic conversation about race and power."
—Jim Sleeper, Washington Post Book World
"Fire on the Prairie is a master journalist’s fascinating chronicle of the Harold Washington mayorality elections and the intervening ‘Council War’. The book is rich in intriguing behind-the-scenes incidents. Rivlin makes the reader live those years."
—Leon Despres, Chicago Sun-Times