Ammie's Reviews > A Prayer for the City

A Prayer for the City by H.G. Bissinger
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Feb 09, 11

Read from January 28 to February 09, 2011

I decided to read this because I don't know much about city-level politics, even less than I know about other types of politics. The author, Buzz Bissinger, spent four years--1992-1995, an entire term in office--following around Ed Rendell and David Cohen, the mayor and chief of staff of Philadelphia. It's a book about Rendell, about his massive and at times almost unbearably painful struggle to rescue his city before it capsized, but it's also a book about Philadelphia and the larger subject of cities and urban culture.
I have to say, sometimes nonfiction can be a bitch to read, not because it's boring or dry, but because when bad things happen they are true. Despite the fact that Rendell made massive moves forward during his first term as mayor, the message of this book seems to be this: Cities are awesome, and also, they are dying. The middle class is fleeing, the tax base is dropping, the economic gaps are spreading, and most people don't seem to care. For every step forward, more jobs are lost and more people die, and it begins to feel less like a natural life cycle than like decay. And somehow, even though I love being in non-city places, this breaks my heart.
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