Conflicts and Crises: The Life and Times of James K. McGuire
by Dr. Daniel F. Schultz
LitPrime Solutions

"An in-depth case study of a man involved in many facets of American life during the Progressive period in America—Tammany politics, reform movements, trusts, political corruption and international intrigue."

The trajectory of late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century regional politics rings a familiar note today in this historical biography of James K. McGuire, the youngest mayor of Syracuse, New York. The detailed coverage of this locally well-known but historically neglected national figure by professor emeritus and historian Schultz reveals the complex life of a populist reformer eventually tainted by money and abuses of power.

McGuire reached an impressive level of achievement for a young man with little formal education. The positives of his three terms as mayor were plagued by triple indictments—two indictments as an asphalt lobbyist and his "investigation by the federal government concerning his Irish nationalist activities." The lack of historical documents such as letters reveals a businessman and politician who often worked behind the scenes: "The growth of urban America's need for paved streets and reservoirs, its increasing use of automobiles, the growth of business monopolies, America's expansionist policies and the cities' domination by political machines, made for an unsavory combination that was ripe for corruption. In the midst of all of these developments was James K. McGuire."

Sometimes the facts about McGuire are lost in the extensive narrative that covers multiple facets of political life in New York state during his era. Still, the comprehensive treatment of the topic sets the stage and whets the appetite for future research about the man. Both academic readers and casual armchair historians will appreciate this volume's laser-fine detail and meticulously notated narrative. The text could benefit from some additional storytelling devices to relieve the meticulous academic "told" aspect. All in all, though, the book takes a fascinating journey through New York's political evolution and highlights many historical figures who participated in this complex and dynamic era of intense partisan politics.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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