Chicago: A Biography

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Dominic A. Pacyga

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Chicago has been called by many names. Nelson Algren declared it a a??City on the Make.a?? Carl Sandburg dubbed it the a??City of Big Shoulders.a?? Upton Sinclair christened it a??The Jungle,a?? while New Yorkers, naturally, pronounced it a??the Second City.a??

At last there is a book for all of us, whatever we choose to call Chicago. In this magisterial biography, historian Dominic Pacygatraces the storied past of his hometown, from the explorations of Joliet and Marquette in 1673 to the new wave of urban pioneers today. The citya??s great industrialists, reformers, and politiciansa??and, indeed, the many not-so-great and downright notoriousa??animate this book, from Al Capone and Jane Addams to Mayor Richard J. Daley and President Barack Obama. But what distinguishes this book from the many others on the subject is its authora??s uncommon ability to illuminate the lives of Chicagoa??s ordinary people. Raised on the citya??s South Side and employed for a time in the stockyards, Pacyga??gives voice to the citya??s steelyard workers and kill floor operators, and maps the neighborhoods distinguished not by Louis Sullivan masterworks, but by bungalows and corner taverns.

??Filled with the citya??s one-of-a-kind characters and all of its defining moments, Chicago: A Biography is as big and boisterous as its namesakea??and as ambitious as the men and women who built it.


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