Current Affairs/Urban Studies
"An extraordinary book, an insider's account of the daily
workings of a big-city administration."
--Witold Rybczynski, The New York Review of Books
A Prayer for the City is Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Buzz Bissinger's true epic of Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell, an utterly unique, unorthodox, and idiosyncratic leader who will do anything to save his city: take unions head on, personally lobby President Clinton to save 10,000 defense jobs, or wrestle Smiley the Pig on Hot Dog Day--all the while bearing in mind the eternal fickleness of constituents whose favor may hinge on a missed garbage pick-up or an overzealous meter maid. It is also the story of citizens in crisis: a woman fighting ceaselessly to give her great-grandchildren a better life, a father of six who may lose his job at the Navy Shipyard, and a policy analyst whose experiences as a crime victim tempt her to abandon her job and ideals. Heart-wrenching and hilarious, alive with detail and insight, A Prayer for the City describes a city on its knees and the rare combination of political courage and optimism that may be the only hope for America's urban centers.
"A Prayer for the City gives a unique insider account. . . . [It] is a superb book. . . . Bissinger's writing, sparse and urgent, always shines . . . and his narrative crackles with descriptive force." --The Miami Herald
"A full-scale portrait of a struggling American metropolis that brings to mind such classics of urban reportage and analysis as J. Anthony Lukas's Common Ground and Nicholas Lemann's Promised Land."
--The New York Times Book Review
"What we see through Bissinger's unique lens is profoundly touching and inspiring, poignant and sad. . . . If you really want to feel the
heartbeat of the American city--and find a source of hope for its
revival--you will find it here." --The Philadelphia Inquirer
We've had our share of "season with the team" books about basketball, baseball, and football, so why not a book about an event of political importance: an insider's account of an entire term of a big city mayor? And it might as well be about one of America's best, most interesting mayors, Philadelphia's Ed Rendell. Buzz Bissinger follows Rendell, his chief of staff, and four other Philadelphians through four years of his sincere, flamboyant struggle against Philadelphia's crushing poverty--four years of dealing with the staff, the press, the constituents, and the feds. It doesn't end with the eradication of the city's many social ills, but it does end with a second term, and with hope.