[Read] ➼ A Prayer for the City (Vintage) ➹ H.G. Bissinger – Dailytradenews.co.uk


  • Paperback
  • 448 pages
  • A Prayer for the City (Vintage)
  • H.G. Bissinger
  • English
  • 20 July 2018
  • 9780679744948

10 thoughts on “A Prayer for the City (Vintage)

  1. says:

    This was certainly an odd choice for me to read while on vacation, i.e not in Philadelphia, but such is the library hold queue The author spent four years embedded in the first administration of Ed Rendell as Philadelphia mayor 1992 95 and wrote about all the highs rescuing the budget and lows losing the Navy Yard He had total access to Rendell and his chief of staff David Cohen, whom I liked better after reading this book because I ve only heard of him as the the chief lobbyist of Comcast, an outright evil job.I most enjoyed the descriptions of my city and passionate arguments about how federal government policy screwed over urban areas leading to a vicious cycle of failure and flight What I liked less was Bissinger s writing style, which I thought was florid, sometimes veering into metaphors that I found barely comprehensible After Rendell intervenes in cancelled beauty pageant, we learn that The contestants sat in the front row, pretty and prim, the white sashes proclaiming their states running in neat diagonal lines from shoulder to sternum like cellophane wrapping on a piece of processed cheese 96 Uh, I know where my sternum is, what is up with these ladies The other thing I found a little disappointing about this book is that it only covers Rendell s first term as mayor and so, in 2016, reads as being unfinished or ending in the middle of the story I think of Rendell s tenure, overlapping my high school and college years, as the time when the city changed from being a place my family hardly ever went to despite living 15 miles away to being a place I wanted to live in One thing I remember about Rendell is that at the end of his last term in office, he had a reception for people to take pictures with him, an event which went hours overtime because so many people came, such was his popularity But as for any of the specific achievements of his second term, I don t remember them and they re not covered here Thus, I ended up seeing this book as a vivid time capsule of Philadelphia in the early 90s and a character sketch of Rendell than as a comprehensive history of how the city was turned around Still, for me, that made it worthwhile.


  2. says:

    If you loved the West Wing TV series, there are good chances that you ll like this book The author somehow finagled permission to be a fly on the wall during the Ed Rendell s first term as Philadelphia s Mayor 1992 1995 , embedding himself in the Chief of Staff s office, sitting in the shadows during executive meetings, even listening outside the door during tense confidential negotiations over navy yard reuse proposals Readers are granted shockingly unfettered access to the internal workings of city government at the highest level we are spectators at the Administration s finest hours and most cringe worthy stumbles I m still amazed at what Bissinger was allowed to witness What makes the narrative even interesting is that the 1990s was a pivotal turning point for American cities, in a way that some guessed at in the moment but really became apparent only a decade or so later White flight, the crack epidemic, race riots, Cabrini Green like public housing projects, and de industrialization had culminated in horrific conditions that left cities broke, crime ridden, and plagued with poverty related issues Everything peaked in the 1990s Administrations that realized that they were the last, best chance to save a dying and obsolete city took radical measures, capitalized on the economic boom of the 1990s, and entered the 21st century with enough economic momentum and attractive assets to lure in urbanophile Millennials See Philadelphia, thanks to Rendell The alternative was complete collapse of the city, following by the total implosion of the economy in nearby suburbs see Detroit Gary Flint So not only does A Prayer for The City deliver a fascinating insider view, but what we re watching is a desperate Administration try everything it can think of to pull a City back from the brink We re shameless, the Chief of Staff told the author We ll play every card The book offers thoughtful, poignant portraits of two men Mayor Ed Rendell and his Chief of Staff, David Cohen and in so doing, it offers insights into what it takes in terms of temperament and time allocation to excel at those jobs We vote for Mayors, but do we actually know what they do, what they can do, to create change Bissinger makes a compelling case that one of the Mayor s key contributions was his relentless cheerleading Rendell s optimism changed the entire feel of the city, to the point where the perpetual focus wasn t on the litany of problems, but on what maybe, just maybe , could be done As if by constantly talking about all that might be coming and planning for it as if it were already here, it somehow was already here In a way, he wasn t America s Mayor but America s first publicly elected cult leader, winning hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands on the basis of blind faith. Even if he did have to do it by wrestling with six foot pig mascots to promote a local hot dog business, or undertake any number of ridiculous shticks to market the city as an entertainment destination for suburbanites with money to burn Of course, I also ate up the fact that both my employer and my boss were mentioned by name in the section about the 5 year financial plan that brought city government back from near bankruptcy A manifesto for dramatic and radical and unprecedented change in an American city yeah, I think I ll tell my Mom that that s what I do for a living My only reservation is that the narrative flow can feel like learning to drive a manual transmission the adrenaline rush of union stand downs and navy yard sale negotiations screech to a halt for a profile of a Philadelphia resident I understand that the author included these profiles to give the reader a visceral image of the people whose lives hang in the balance, people like a soon to be laid off welder, an African American grandma raising her great grandkids in a crack neighborhood, a yuppie couple who are driven from their Center City townhouse after one too many violent crimes, etc It s all good content, it s just awkwardly shoe horned into the Rendall Administration story in a way that s distracting at best and deflating at worst All in all, I can t believe this isn t standard reading among urbanists.


  3. says:

    What Bissinger has written is both paean and elegy to the once grand, once thriving American city The focus is Philadelphia, but the story represents the plight of all the large urban centers across the country cities whose revitalized downtowns are deceptive, a brocade curtain hiding a crumbling stage set It s hard to believe that Ed Rendell, newly elected mayor of Philadelphia, would allow Bissinger to follow him around for four years, giving him access to meetings, policy debates, and personal melt downs I am astonished And I m inclined to agree with the author s view that Mayor Rendell is a man unafraid to be human Ultimately though, Rendell, and his passion to save Philadelphia, is not what fascinated me the most What the book did is lift the manhole cover on the political machinations, both good and terrible, that keep government snaking along Do we need government do help us maintain a civilized society I think we do, but what a sewer I admire the noble efforts of politicians who enter this befouled environment in order to make a difference, a better life, for their constituents What they re up against is beyond description, although Bissinger does justice to the attempt Poverty, racism, drugs, crime, fear, despair, poor public schools, abandoned factories, little health care, and a culture of public dependence That s the short list.Although I found this book seriously depressing, I also came away feeling something of the spirit of confidence and hope that all is not ruined I admit that I m deeply cynical about politicians and the legislative process government policies are so often grossly damaging but this book makes clear that there are people willing to make painful sacrifices for the greater good.This book is about the possibilities.


  4. says:

    I don t know if a better book has been written about local politics This book may be one of the best ones I ve read about politics, period It s a dizzying portrayal of a big city mayor trying to navigate the shark infested waters of public employee unions, the media, state and federal government, job loss, white flight, and It s both engrossing and deeply depressing Not perfect Bissinger lays it on a bit thick sometimes , but overall I loved it.


  5. says:

    There s a good book to be found in the text of this book the political chess playing on its own would make a three , maybe four star book But as it s presented, Bissinger s too fundamentally dishonest and crowd pleasing in his presentation for this to merit serious consideration as meaningful nonfiction He seems to lack all respect for his presumed audience, between his narrative gimmicks and the sheer transparency of his emotional manipulation it comes across as an insecurity in the strength of the story he s chosen, which is unfortunate, as it was strong enough without his intrusive modifications Some of this is small stuff, like his providing gratuitous details to no purpose half a page listing Philadelphia s firsts, half a page of the names of ships built at the navy yard, etc , which feels mostly like an attempt at padding out a term paper he might argue that such expansive lists were included to impress sheer scale upon the reader, but simple numbers would be sufficient to impress that same scale His choice, too, to take intermittent excursions from the overtly political bulk of the text to drop in on the lives of four citizens feels like another misjudgement of his audience, like either desperate attempts to keep his audience from getting bored or periodical reminders that this book s story of politics is a fundamentally human one, as if that could ever be forgotten His personal biases also come across without much effort made toward concealment and the efforts that are made are so lackluster as to have the effecting of highlighting , and without even bothering forth arguments in their favor, let alone successful ones.Most concerning is the artificiality of the narrative he massages into such a construction so as to be able to say to any kind of reader broadly, we might break these potential subsets into pro government and anti government groups , Ha, I proved you wrong This isn t going where you thought it was, and I m not supporting your case, but also, You should be commended for believing that, but that doesn t make you right This frustrating double rebuttal is not dubious for the emotion it provokes frustration is a perfectly valid emotion to elicit, and likely would have been the one elicited by a straighter retelling of the facts indeed, even without Bissinger s reckless and undecorous ramping up, the undoctored version of events would likely play as black comedy with an honestly earned, multifaceted tragicomic tone , but the manner of extraction here removes any power from the fact of the situation and gives it all to Bissinger himself under the guise of offering a balanced portrayal, Bissinger actually merely ensures that his book will end up as utterly unchallenging to readers of any and all points of view He seems to have of a congratulatory interest in lionizing himself and his readers for whatever beliefs they may or may not have in America s system of government, and in blaming its players broadly, than in truly analyzing that same system As a result, this book fails my standard litmus test for effective nonfiction, which is, roughly, to raise as many questions as it answers Bissinger is uninterested in such questions and answers, assumes his readership is as well, and so disregards them altogether.


  6. says:

    I grew up in Philly, spent 16 years of schooling there, and now live in South Jersey and still work in Philly I learned about the city during the 1.5 weeks I was reading this book than I did in all that other time combined The depth of the reporting, the range of stories covered, the ability to sort through reams of information it s all really impressive But it s not just a Philly book it s a book about the slow decay of the American city and the ways people have tried to combat that death, with all the inherent political mess that comes with that territory Although the 92 96 timeframe may seem dated, it s actually fascinating now to see it because the book opens with Mayor Rendell saying his economic plan will shape the city for the next 25 years 21 years after that proclamation, it s possible to really see where some of the changes in this city are rooted Every now and then Bissinger gets a little carried away with ludicrous metaphors and imposes his voice on the story in distracting ways and it was weird how he seemed to immediately and instinctively side with Rendell s camp during the incidents when he sexually harassed and or actually assaulted women , but overall the prose is strong and clear and crisp and everything else you d expect from a writer of this pedigree.


  7. says:

    If you love cities read this To understand how the American city has been methodically undermined by public policy throughout the 20th century and to see an exceptional pair of men fight the good fight through their own flaws, read this Very well written book about the first term of Mayor Rendell in Philadelphia I live in the city and love the city and this broke my heart, but left me hopeful that there are still people in public service who want cities to survive and maybe, someday, thrive again.


  8. says:

    As an inside look at how politics gets done in a big city, this is pretty much unparallelled, and all of its observations about how cities have been abandoned and screwed over are pretty much right on the money So why didn t I like this I think Bissinger s writing is pretty unimpressive the whole thing has these weird macho New Journalism airs about it, which I recognize as an attempt to spice things up but feels a little overcompensating Nevertheless, it s 100% necessary reading for understanding why Philly is how it is.


  9. says:

    Buzz Bissinger is too passionately intense I had to read this in graduate school and I have an autographed copy, dated 9.8.98 within a week or so of starting the official program I went to school at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia He wrote for the Inquirer, the morning paper It is about the amazing turn around orchestrated by Ed Rendell Philadelphia has gone to hell in the proceeding 15 years neoliberalism is to blame I am sure And a few Republican administrations in between.


  10. says:

    details of the operations of a unique city and it s unique mayor details the life and times of ed rendell then mayor, now governor and makes you idolize the man if your a hard working liberal that is even if you don t like rendell, you ll learn a lot about him and a lot about what has happened to make philadelphia the way it is today.


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A Prayer for the City (Vintage)characters A Prayer for the City (Vintage), audiobook A Prayer for the City (Vintage), files book A Prayer for the City (Vintage), today A Prayer for the City (Vintage), A Prayer for the City (Vintage) 0c0da 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 , 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


About the Author: H.G. Bissinger

H.G Bissinger has won the Pulitzer Prize, the Livingston Award, the National Headliner Award, and the American Bar Association s Silver Gavel for his reporting The author has written for the television series NYPD Blue and is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair He lives in Philadelphia.