Pendergast! (Missouri Biography Series)

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9780826221148: Pendergast! (Missouri Biography Series)
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More than a half-century after the death of Kansas City's notorious political boss, Thomas J. Pendergast, the Pendergast name still evokes great interest and even controversy. Now, in this first full-scale biography of Pendergast, Lawrence H. Larsen and Nancy J. Hulston have successfully provided—through extensive research, including use of recently released prison records and previously unavailable family records—a clear look at the life of Thomas J. Pendergast.

Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1872, Tom Pendergast moved to Kansas City around 1890 to work for his brother James, founder of the Pendergast "Goat" faction in Kansas City Democratic politics. In 1911, Pendergast became head of the Goats, and over the next fifteen years he created a powerful political machine that used illegal voting and criminal enforcers to gain power. Following a change in the city charter in 1925, Pendergast took control of Kansas City and ran it as his own personal business. In the 1930s, he received over $30 million annually from gambling, prostitution, and narcotics, putting him in the big leagues of American civic corruption. He also wielded great power in the National Democratic Party and started Harry S. Truman on the road to the presidency.

In this well-balanced biography, the authors examine Pendergast's rise to power, his successes as a political leader, his compassion for the destitute, and his reputation for keeping his word. They also examine Pendergast's character development and how his methods became more and more ruthless. Pendergast had no use for ideology in his "invisible government"—only votes counted.

In 1937 and 1938 the federal government broke the back of Pendergast's machine, convicting 259 of his campaign aides for vote fraud. In 1939 Pendergast, who was believed to be the largest bettor on horse racing in the United States, was jailed for income tax evasion, and he died in disgrace in 1945.

An insightful and comprehensive biography, Pendergast! will surely serve for years to come as the most thorough investigation of the life and infamous career of Tom Pendergast.

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About the Author:

Lawrence H. Larsen is Professor of History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is the author of Federal Justice in Western Missouri: The Judges, the Cases, the Times and A History of Missouri: Volume VI, 1953 to 2003.

Nancy J. Hulston is the Director of Archives at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She is the coauthor of The University of Kansas Medical Center: A Pictorial History.

The Missouri Biography Series, edited by William E. Foley

From Kirkus Reviews:

This biography does little to dissipate the sensationalism surrounding its subject. Set up in the business of politics in 1890 by his eldest brother, James, Thomas J. Pendergast rose slowly but steadily to the top of the Kansas City political machine that his brother had created, eventually becoming the city's de facto ruler and a very wealthy man. While widespread rumors of drug dealing, prostitution, election fraud, and violence plagued his career as a powerbroker--a career spent largely behind the scenes, and not in elective office--historian Larsen (Univ. of Missouri, Kansas City) and archivist Hulston (Univ. of Kansas Medical Center) do little more than repeat these rumors, seemingly unable to either substantiate or eliminate them. Indeed, the only wrongdoing on Pendergast's part of which the authors seem positive is the income-tax evasion for which he was convicted and sent to Leavenworth in 1939. Frequently compared to Al Capone (also at Leavenworth for tax evasion), Pendergast did not linger in jail; he spent only 12 months of a 15-month sentence behind bars. This sentence was blasted as too lenient by a press that had turned against ``the Boss'' of ``Tom's Town,'' as Kansas City had come to be called. He died in 1945 alone and nearly broke; his wife had finally left him, and his money had gone to pay government fines and his endless gambling debts. His greatest legacy is, supposedly, to have fixed the election that put haberdasher (and loyal Pendergast supporter) Harry Truman in his first public office and on a trajectory to the White House. Those unfamiliar with Pendergast will likely find parallels with Richard Daley's Chicago and Boss Tweed's Tammany Hall. Unfortunately, while the subject is an interesting and important one, Larsen and Hulston seem to have little to offer but recycled rumor and innuendo. (30 b&w illustrations, not seen) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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9780826211453: Pendergast! (MISSOURI BIOGRAPHY SERIES)

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Publisher: University of Missouri, 1997
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Book Description University of Missouri Press, United States, 2016. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. More than a half-century after the death of Kansas City's notorious political boss, Thomas J. Pendergast, the Pendergast name still evokes great interest and even controversy. Now, in this first full-scale biography of Pendergast, Lawrence H. Larsen and Nancy J. Hulston have successfully provided-through extensive research, including use of recently released prison records and previously unavailable family records-a clear look at the life of Thomas J. Pendergast. Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1872, Tom Pendergast moved to Kansas City around 1890 to work for his brother James, founder of the Pendergast "Goat" faction in Kansas City Democratic politics. In 1911, Pendergast became head of the Goats, and over the next fifteen years he created a powerful political machine that used illegal voting and criminal enforcers to gain power. Following a change in the city charter in 1925, Pendergast took control of Kansas City and ran it as his own personal business. In the 1930s, he received over $30 million annually from gambling, prostitution, and narcotics, putting him in the big leagues of American civic corruption. He also wielded great power in the National Democratic Party and started Harry S. Truman on the road to the presidency. In this well-balanced biography, the authors examine Pendergast's rise to power, his successes as a political leader, his compassion for the destitute, and his reputation for keeping his word. They also examine Pendergast's character development and how his methods became more and more ruthless. Pendergast had no use for ideology in his "invisible government"-only votes counted. In 1937 and 1938 the federal government broke the back of Pendergast's machine, convicting 259 of his campaign aides for vote fraud. In 1939 Pendergast, who was believed to be the largest bettor on horse racing in the United States, was jailed for income tax evasion, and he died in disgrace in 1945. An insightful and comprehensive biography, Pendergast! will surely serve for years to come as the most thorough investigation of the life and infamous career of Tom Pendergast. Seller Inventory # AAC9780826221148

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Book Description University of Missouri Press, United States, 2016. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. More than a half-century after the death of Kansas City's notorious political boss, Thomas J. Pendergast, the Pendergast name still evokes great interest and even controversy. Now, in this first full-scale biography of Pendergast, Lawrence H. Larsen and Nancy J. Hulston have successfully provided-through extensive research, including use of recently released prison records and previously unavailable family records-a clear look at the life of Thomas J. Pendergast. Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1872, Tom Pendergast moved to Kansas City around 1890 to work for his brother James, founder of the Pendergast "Goat" faction in Kansas City Democratic politics. In 1911, Pendergast became head of the Goats, and over the next fifteen years he created a powerful political machine that used illegal voting and criminal enforcers to gain power. Following a change in the city charter in 1925, Pendergast took control of Kansas City and ran it as his own personal business. In the 1930s, he received over $30 million annually from gambling, prostitution, and narcotics, putting him in the big leagues of American civic corruption. He also wielded great power in the National Democratic Party and started Harry S. Truman on the road to the presidency. In this well-balanced biography, the authors examine Pendergast's rise to power, his successes as a political leader, his compassion for the destitute, and his reputation for keeping his word. They also examine Pendergast's character development and how his methods became more and more ruthless. Pendergast had no use for ideology in his "invisible government"-only votes counted. In 1937 and 1938 the federal government broke the back of Pendergast's machine, convicting 259 of his campaign aides for vote fraud. In 1939 Pendergast, who was believed to be the largest bettor on horse racing in the United States, was jailed for income tax evasion, and he died in disgrace in 1945. An insightful and comprehensive biography, Pendergast! will surely serve for years to come as the most thorough investigation of the life and infamous career of Tom Pendergast. Seller Inventory # AAC9780826221148

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