From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Friday Night Lights, the heart-wrenching and hilarious true story of an American city on its knees and a man who will do anything to save it.
A Prayer for the City is acclaimed journalist Buzz Bissinger's true epic of Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell, an utterly unique, unorthodox, and idiosyncratic leader willing to go to any length for the sake of 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. "Fascinating, humane" (The New Yorker) and alive with detail and insight, A Prayer for the City describes the rare combination of political courage and optimism that may be the only hope for America's urban centers.
When Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell took office in 1992, he inherited a city on the brink of bankruptcy, reeling from racial unrest, violent crime, a floundering school system and middle-class exodus. How this politician, born and raised in New York City, nurtured Philadelphia back to a semblance of health is the theme of this heartfelt, involving book. Bissinger, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and now a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, credits Rendell with giving the city's economy a jump-start through a draconian five-year fiscal plan that involved budget austerity. The author, who had virtually unlimited access to the mayor and his staff from 1992 to 1995, gauges the impact of Rendell's administration by following the personal lives of five Philadelphians. One is David Cohen, the mayor's chief of staff, who helped wrest major givebacks from the unions. Equally unflappable are welder Jim Mangan, father of six, perturbed by the navy yard's imminent closing; Fifi Mazzccua, a diabetic woman caring for four great-grandchildren, resolute in the face of her son's lifetime prison sentence for murder and a grandson's death in a shoot-out; Michael McGovern, the city's zealous criminal prosecutor; and iconoclastic Linda Morrison, director of Philadelphia's competitive contracting program. Bissinger's unflinching report is an inspirational saga for those who care deeply about the crisis of America's cities. Photos. Author tour.