Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York

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9780786714353: Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York
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A lively account of the life of a New York legend traces the rise of Boss Tweed, the corrupt party boss who controlled New York politics through a combination of corruption, bribery, and coercion until his own over-reaching destroyed him.

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About the Author:

Kenneth D. Ackermanis the author of the Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of James A. Garfield, featured on C-Span’s “Booknotes” and “BookTV” plus National Public Radio’s “All Thing’s Considered,” and The Gold Ring: Wall Street’s Swindle of the Century and Its Most Scandalous Crash—Black Friday, 1869, which recounts a notorious attempt to corner the post-–Civil War gold market.

Ackerman is a 25-year veteran of senior positions in Congress, the executive branch, and financial regulation. As Administrator of the Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency from 1993 through 2001, he headed the Federal crop insurance program that protects more than one million American farm producers. Ackerman has also served two tours on U.S. Senate staffs, first as Counsel to the Committee on Governmental Affairs (1975-–81) under then-Senator Charles H. Percy, Republican, of Illinois, and later as Special Counsel to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry (1988–93) under its then-Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat, of Vermont. During the years between, he held senior legal positions at the U. S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

In these positions, Ackerman has investigated issues ranging from the 1979–180 silver corner to the 1987 stock market crash, and developed legislation on topics from farm policy to electronic eavesdropping to civil service reform to financial market oversight. He has testified before dozens of Congressional hearings and town meetings with farmers in more than twenty states, as well as bar assciations and government officials in London, Warsaw, Vienna, Tel Aviv, and Ramallah.

He was profiled in Government Executive magazine in 1997 and included by National Journal that year in its “Washington 100” list of top Federal decision-makers. He currently teaches seminars on legislation and lobbying for TheCapitol.Net.

A native of Albany, New York, and graduate of Brown University (1973) and the Georgetown University Law Center (1976), Ackerman practices law in Washington, D. C. and lives with his wife Karen in Falls Church, Virginia.

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. William Marcy Tweed didn't invent graft, but he rigged elections and stole from the public on an unprecedented scale, gaining a stranglehold on New York City and amassing a vast personal fortune. By the early 1870s, he and his "ring" had skimmed between $25 and $40 million from the municipal treasury, a staggering amount even in an era notorious for robber barons and market manipulators. Ackerman, the author of The Gold Ring: Jim Fisk, Jay Gould, and Black Friday 1869, a book about two other Gilded Age scoundrels, deftly chronicles Tweed's epic rise and ultimate disgrace, giving us a nuanced portrait of the "Boss." Early in his career, Tweed brilliantly recognized that he could win power by mobilizing New York's teeming working-class and immigrant wards. Through patronage and largesse, Tweed recruited an army of ballot-box stuffers who helped install his cronies in office, allowing him to award jobs and contracts to friends while punishing enemies. Tweed's ring borrowed vast amounts on the city's tab and spent lavishly on such public projects as Central Park, making Tweed "the city's grand benefactor, Santa Claus with a diamond pin." But while Ackerman gives Tweed his due, describing how the Boss's machine aided the poor and helped modernize a crowded, chaotic city, the author is too clear-eyed to present his subject as a latter-day Robin Hood. Ackerman's Boss Tweed robbed everyone-and kept plenty for himself. And ultimately, Tweed's corruption and fiscal recklessness had crippling consequences for the city long after he died, penniless, in jail. In the end, this book is not only a compelling look at the colorful yet ruthless man who invented the big city political machine, it is also the gripping story of how dedicated newspapermen and zealous reformers brought down a notorious kingpin.
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