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Napoleon Of New York: Mayor Fiorello La Guardia
by H. Paul Jeffers
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons 2002
Category: Non-fiction20th centuryPolitics
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Fiorello La Guardia was short of stature, but big of heart. This cigar-puffing, roly-poly mayor with a squeaky voice was affectionately nicknamed "The Little Flower" and "Hizzoner" by those who adored him. Yet those who worked beside him and knew him best were witnesses to La Guardia’s other side: a driven, headstrong, personally insecure figure, about whom Robert Moses once detected "omniscience and megalomania." The Napoleon of New York provides a fresh perspective of Fiorello La Guardia’s life and mayoralty. Here, author H. Paul Jeffers takes a new spin on this beloved mayor by contrasting the public’s benevolent image of him that has lasted through seven decades with a complex, paradoxical, and cunning politician who was as tough and unforgiving as the city he governed. No one can deny Fiorello La Guardia’s great accomplishments in invigorating New York City. As he took office on January 1, 1934, he found a city mired in the depths of the Great Depression and burdened by a corrupted government. His first words upon being sworn in were "To the victor belongs the responsibility of good government." When he retired at the end of 1945, he left a New York that was revitalized and optimistic. New Yorkers loved him for his passion, humor, flair, and honesty, and had this popular Republican mayor sought a fourth term, the predominantly Democratic city would have welcomed his announcement. In this probing biography, H. Paul Jeffers reveals the man and the mayor who rose from an immigrant background to forge a model for good government that cares for its people whatever their race or creed. Jeffers presents the shrewd politician who knew what he wanted to do and how to go about it in a city renowned for skepticism. In contrasting the carefully cultivated, amusing personality that La Guardia showed to an adoring public and the tough administrator known to City Hall insiders, The Napoleon of New York also explores the early experiences that shaped the character of the man and the motivations that put the son of an agnostic Italian immigrant and Jewish mother from Austria on a path to the pinnacle of power in the greatest city in America.



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