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Question of the day

Monday, Jul 30, 2007

What movie or book would you recommend that somebody watch or read to understand Illinois politics? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

67 Comments
  1. - Anon - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:03 am:

    Boss by Mike Royko remains an essential read to understand Chicago, and therefore by extension has some lessons for the rest of the state.


  2. - The Conservative - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:18 am:

    It’s a Mad Mad Mad world


  3. - pickles!! - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:19 am:

    “Government for Dummies”, or the bestseller, “The Idiot’s Guide to Balacing a State Budget”


  4. - OneManBlog - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:23 am:

    The Wizard of Oz using the Dark Side of the Moon as replacement audio


  5. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:24 am:

    HELP by the beattles


  6. - Donnie - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:30 am:

    The Godfather - all of them.


  7. - Solidarity? - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:33 am:

    “Money Counts” by Kent Redfeld


  8. - Levois - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:34 am:

    I’ll choose for historical purposes American Pharoah about Mayor Richard J. Daley. I don’t know of any that would be more contemporary.


  9. - anonymous - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:34 am:

    the Godfather. someone needs to make an offer that can’t be refused to end the budget standoff


  10. - Say It Ain't So, Moe! - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:41 am:

    Catch 22.


  11. - Fire Ron Guenther - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:41 am:

    American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley - His Battle for Chicago and the Nation. By Adam Cohen & Elizabeth Taylor.

    Fascinating read about how Daley I got power, kept power, racially segregated Chicago and how he dealt with Illinois politicians.


  12. - Energy Consumer - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:42 am:

    Bio’s of Dan Walker, Otto Kerner, Paul Simon, Adali Stevenson, William Straton, Richard Ogilvie, Richard J. Daley, Paul Powell. All give a good flavor of IL politics from the 1950’s to end of the 1970’s. “Mostly Good and Competent Men”, a review of Illinois’ Governors up through Thompson. New Bio on Russel Arington. Someone needs to do a Bio on Thompson’s era. Rich needs to write one on Madigan, Rock, Pate, and Emil. One more book, City of the Century along with the PBS series. Movies - Godfather, Northside 777 with Jimmy Stewart has some great footage of the inside of the Capitol in the 1930’s or 1940’s. The son of the police officer killed in the movie served in the House in the 1970’s.”


  13. - General Assembly Watcher - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:47 am:

    ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST.


  14. - Bill - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:49 am:

    Revenge of the Nerds


  15. - jaundiced eye - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:49 am:

    For Rod analysis: All the King’s Men (book), A Face in the Crowd (movie) and Saturday Night Fever (movie) … stayin’ alive, staying’ alive!!


  16. - Near&Far - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:53 am:

    1984 by George Orwell


  17. - Welshman - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:54 am:

    Power House, Arrington From Illinois- Taylor Pensoneau


  18. - anon - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:55 am:

    I agree with the Godfather - all of them. I also would throw in Goodfellas.


  19. - Dante Hicks - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:55 am:

    Clerks, the Kevin Smith movie that was depicted loosely on Dante’s “INFERNO”


  20. - cool hand - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:06 am:

    flicks: “Power” (a sleeper with richard gere & gene hackman), “The Last Hurrah” and “Milagro Beanfield War”. book (obviously): “Currents of Power: A Modern Political Novel”


  21. - Jim Merriner - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:08 am:

    Come on, Rich. My books, of course.

    Mr. Chairman: Power in Dan Rostenkowski’s America.
    Grafters and Goo Goos: Corruption and Reform in Chicago, 1833-2003.
    The Man Who Emptied Death Row: Gov. George Ryan and the Politics of Crime (forthcoming).


  22. - one of the 35 - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:12 am:

    In light of recent gubinatorial behavior: “Weekend at Bernie’s”.


  23. - GLT - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:16 am:

    “Clout - Mayor Daley and His City” by Len O’Connor for the same reasons expressed by Anon.


  24. - Ken in Aurora - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:22 am:

    Sinclair’s “The Jungle”, of course.


  25. - gotta be anonymous - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:26 am:

    I’d like to recommend everyone watch the budget discussion scene from the movie “Dave” (Kevin Kline) to see what should be done to fix the sorry state of affairs Illinois is in!


  26. - Concerned Voter - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:35 am:

    Just going by title:
    Les Miserables
    The NIGHTMARE before Christmas (if this budget mess keeps going)
    Say Anything (What the guv seems to do)
    High Anxiety


  27. - cermak_rd - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:36 am:

    I concur with American Pharoah, another is “The Wicked City: Chicago from Kenna to Capone” by Curt Johnson and R. Crain Sautter, which provides background info on how Chicago is the way it is and then there’s “When Corruption was King” by Robert Cooley and Hillel Levin. I tend to ignore Cooley’s self-aggrandizement, but the look behind the scenes from that era is fascinating. It has good notes too and references “Greylord” by Tuohy and Warden, which has now joined my reading list.


  28. - JohnnyChicago - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:38 am:

    This one is easy. Titanic.


  29. - Captain America - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:39 am:

    Nonfiction:American Pharoah is an excellent nominee - its definitely the best of many books about the late Mayor Daley.

    Allen Drury’s, Advice and Consent might be instrictive in terms of working with a hostile legislature.

    Fiction: All the King’s Men is definitely the greatest political novel of all time. The Governor’s poltical career showed a lot of promise, but like Huey Long’s career, appears to be destined to end tragically - either by indictment or ignominious political defeat in the next gubernatorial primary.

    The Governor might Find Jerry Brown’s life story interesting, given that Brown has managed to resurrect his political career, by reincarnating himself as Mayor of Oakland.

    But hands down. no contest, the best book the Governor and his staff needed to read and never did: Taegan Goddard’s practical primer on governing: We Won, Now What?

    (I gave this book to Dan Hynes shortly after he was elected Comptroller. But Dan probably didn’t need to read this book because he definitely understands governing instinctively.)


  30. - Levois - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:46 am:

    Dempsey J. Travis’ Autobiography of Black Politics


  31. - Shawnee Souix - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:48 am:

    Currents of Power (http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?isbn=0-595-18518-5), by Claude Walker, Pat Quinn’s former communications director, is spot on. Plus it is fun to match up the novel’s cast with their real-life counterparts.


  32. - Sen. Jeff Schoenberg - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 11:49 am:

    Agree with those who picked Royko’s “Boss” and Taylor’s “American Pharoah”, but don’t overlook “Don’t Make No Waves, Don’t Back No Losers” and “We Don’t Want Nobody Nobody Sent” by the late Prof. Milt Rakove.


  33. - irishpirate - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 12:03 pm:

    “Blazing Saddles”. Think of the campfire scene.


  34. - irishpirate - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 12:04 pm:

    Here is a link for those of you lacking in taste and culture….likez me.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=R6dm9rN6oTs


  35. - Hoosiers can do it, why can't we? - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 12:11 pm:

    “Crime Story”: Rod IS Ray Luca.


  36. - Spanky - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 12:41 pm:

    Dances with Morons…


  37. - Captain America - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 1:04 pm:

    I agree with Levois that Dempsey Travis’s book is a very enjoyable and seminal book about black politics in Chicago. Not sure how this book would help our Governor - he’s already popular in the African American community - but at this point not many other people like him.

    I guess Senator Schoenberg is suggesting that Rod has “made lots of waves” without many results. and “backed some losers”in terms of his legislative proposals. “Somebody sent me,” but I still never got a chance with the Blago administration,despite an excellent graduate education and a wide range of relevant experience. (Rakove’s books are classic slices of Chicago political Americana)

    Jeff - please go get Senator Jones and the budget whipped into shape. Julie really needs your help on the mass transit bill.


  38. - Ghost - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 1:08 pm:

    Barbarians at the Gate

    while it is about a corporate take over of Kraft, the underlying story is one of corruption/entitlement/excess and those in power fighting to hold on to their largess.


  39. - the Other Anonymous - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 1:09 pm:

    The two essentials for understanding Springfield are Redfield’s “Lawmaking in Illinois” and Nowland and Gove’s book on Illinois politics from the University of Nebraska Press series on state politics. (The series, while incomplete, is excellent as a whole — my first reference when I work outside of Illinois.)

    And I would also suggest Godfathers I and II; not so much Godfather III, since we don’t have anyone seeking redemption under the dome.


  40. - patient advocate - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 1:11 pm:

    “Don’t Make No Waves, Don’t Back No Losers” By Milton Rakove


  41. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 1:16 pm:

    “The Smartest Guys in the Room” (ENRON documentary) or The Simpsons Movie.


  42. - Downstate and to the left - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 1:25 pm:

    Dirty Rotten Scoundrels


  43. - HoosierDaddy - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 1:28 pm:

    “All the King’s Men” by Robert Penn Warren is still the best book about politics of any kind ever written. If you can find it, get the re-edition published after the author’s death. It applies to Illinois politics just as well as Louisiana. Same principles– or lack thereof.


  44. - NoEndNSight - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 1:34 pm:

    Lord of the Flies


  45. - Dan a Voter - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 1:59 pm:

    Mission Impossible


  46. - Squideshi - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 2:02 pm:

    The Illinois Compiled Statutes, Annotated


  47. - BIG R.PH. - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 2:08 pm:

    “Unfit for Command”


  48. - Papa Legba - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 2:21 pm:

    “How to Win Friends and Influence Enemy’s”. Take a guess for who that one is for.


  49. - "I seen my opportunities and I took 'em." - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 2:22 pm:

    http://www.marxists.org/reference
    /archive/plunkett-george/tammany-hall/

    Riordan, William L., Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics, Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1993. (Originally published in 1905)


  50. - Fan of the Game - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 2:45 pm:

    “War in Illinois” by Donald Bain.

    OK, it’s really about southern Illinois gangsters in the ’20s (Charlie Birger, et al.), but the title reflects the current climate in Springfield.


  51. - Antimachus - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 3:17 pm:

    Fire on the Prairie by Gary Rivlin


  52. - SeerSucker - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 3:23 pm:

    The initial Star Wars trilogy. Turns out everyone’s related.


  53. - babs - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 4:42 pm:

    Ward Just’s great novel “Jack Gance” - a classic. Nothing takes place in Springfield (that I can recall, it’s been a few years since I read it)in the book, but from Chicago to DC - and it’s spot on.


  54. - Little Egypt - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 5:20 pm:

    The Peter Principle. If you read it you will understand that Blago has risen to his level of incompetency and will rise no further.


  55. - Cal Skinner - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 5:28 pm:

    There was a paperback with “Fly on the Wall” in its title that I read in the 1970’s. It seemed that the reporter who wrote it had spent some time in Springfield, as well as at least one other state capitol. If I could find it, I would read it again.


  56. - state worker - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 6:03 pm:

    THE GOOD BAD AND THE UGLY…GUESS WHO’S UGLY? hehe


  57. - Esteban - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 6:16 pm:

    “The Maverick And The Machine” by Dan Walker,
    along with “Clout” by Royko.


  58. - Really tired State Employee - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 6:59 pm:

    Heading up the River - starring Curley , Moe & Larry


  59. - dis-connected - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 7:50 pm:

    Supermob, Gus Russo. Hey Blago, the plot thickens.


  60. - anon - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 8:25 pm:

    Hands Down…..Captains and the Kings by Taylor Caldwell.


  61. - Ivory-billed Woodpecker - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 8:48 pm:

    Shawnee Souix,

    Not so sure about Claude Walker’s “Currents of Power” (Writers Club Press, 2001). It kind of goes over the top. E.g.,

    “‘J.J. Springfield’s Daily Bulletin,’ the daily fax and e-mail communique . . . was must-reading for public officials, reporters, lobbyists, grapevine shakers and political junkies across the state, despite its pricey subscription. Everybody read JJ.”

    Who’s going to believe that?


  62. - steve schnorf - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 8:54 pm:

    A compilation of all issues of Capitol Fax


  63. - Ahem - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 9:08 pm:

    A lot of great suggestions. I liked SeerSucker’s a lot.

    My suggestion: Interpersonal Diagnosis and Treatment of Personality Disorders by Lorna Smith Benjamin.


  64. - Disgusted - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:02 pm:

    The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Somewhere in a dark corner is a photo of the real Rod R. Blago, bald, wrinkled, plague-ridden, toothless and he will get more so as he becomes more and more corrupt.


  65. - Shadoobie - Monday, Jul 30, 07 @ 10:28 pm:

    The instructions for the ethics test.


  66. - Mark - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 12:18 am:

    Power w/ Richard Gere
    City Hall w/ Al Pachino
    Brave Heart w/ Gibson …to understand the Downstate Scots who are dominated by the English of Chicagoland


  67. - Patriot - Tuesday, Jul 31, 07 @ 8:44 am:

    The Mouse That Roared


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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