“Golway’s revisionist take is a useful reminder of the unmatched ingenuity of American politics.”—Wall Street Journal
History casts Tammany Hall as shorthand for the worst of urban politics: graft and patronage personified by notoriously crooked characters. In his groundbreaking work Machine Made, journalist and historian Terry Golway dismantles these stereotypes, focusing on the many benefits of machine politics for marginalized immigrants. As thousands sought refuge from Ireland’s potato famine, the very question of who would be included under the protection of American democracy was at stake. Tammany’s transactional politics were at the heart of crucial social reforms—such as child labor laws, workers’ compensation, and minimum wages— and Golway demonstrates that American political history cannot be understood without Tammany’s profound contribution. Culminating in FDR’s New Deal, Machine Made reveals how Tammany Hall “changed the role of government—for the better to millions of disenfranchised recent American arrivals” (New York Observer).