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The Shame of the Cities

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  52 ratings  ·  8 reviews
This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most ...more
Paperback, 306 pages
Published January 1st 1957 by Hill and Wang
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May 27, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: muckraker-expose
I started reading this a few years ago and found it distant and dry and fairly non-specific. My interest in the muckrakers, however, means that I will give it another go someday.
Hussam Al Husseini

The book is highly recommended. As I understood, Steffens points to the origin of corruption to two important causes:
1. Politicians and reformers are businessmen (bankers, lawyers and merchants); for they make the “commercial spirit is the spirit of profit, not patriotism; of credit, not honor; of individual gain, not national prosperity; of trade and dickering, not principle.” However, he sees hope in this kind of politicians. “If our political leader are to be always a lot of political

Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Well, I ordered and began reading this book with the expectation that it'd be a quaint condemnation of certain qualities of urbanism. The odd thing is that, apart from certain dated terminology (we no longer say “graft” or “boodle”) this book is thoroughly relevant to problems in the United States today.

The “Shame” of the title is largely about officials, political rings, police, and citizens who are corrupt or tolerate corruption. In many cases it's fairly normal stuff like bribery, but in
This collection of essays from 1903-1904 lightly documents the corruption in St. Louis, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York City, and asks the fundamental question: Is democracy possible? In each of these cities—indeed, in every American city—government is captured by "rings" and life only proceeds by the leave of unelected thugs. The populaces range from apathetic (New York) to actually supportive (Philadelphia).

It's interesting to see the different styles of corruption,
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This might've been written 114 years ago, but boy, do I recognize the world it describes.
Frank Stein
Jun 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

It's great to read the old purple prose of the muckrakers, but halfway through this book the reader may pine for a little hard-nosed, modern reporting, mayhaps a few dates, a little clarification on names; you know, the simple things.

Interesting though because despite the Jacob Riis photo on the cover, the "shame" of the cities in Steffens's view has nothing to do with rampant poverty. His book deals only with high-end corruption, and the "shame" supposedly comes from the inability of good
Dec 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, political
It would be easy to become jaded after reading this book. Although written over 100 years ago it is just as truthful today regarding corruption in the cities. Pravda, the Russian newspaper, recently wrote an editorial about the illiterate American voters. We confirm the editorial every time there is an election. We elect a president that no one knows anything about then, after doing nothing for four years, re-elect him. His followers are the most corrupt ever. One good thought that the author ...more
Jul 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: americana
This is one of my favorite books because it puts political corruption to a whole new light. I wonder what Lincoln Steffens would write regarding Republicans of the Bush Administrations.
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Steffens was born April 6, 1866, in San Francisco. He grew up in a wealthy family and attended a military academy. He studied in France and Germany following graduation from the University of California.
Steffens began his career as a journalist at the New York Evening Post . He later became an editor of McClure's magazine, where he became part of a celebrated muckraking trio with Ida Tarbell