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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 6683

William Howarth (review date 28 March 1971)

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SOURCE: "October Nonfiction," Washington Post Book World, March 28, 1971, p. 8.

[In the following excerpted review, Howarth discusses Royko's substance and style in Like I Was Sayin'.]

No such modesty deters Mike Royko, whose Like I Was Sayin' … gathers 100 of his columns from the last two decades. Known in Chicago as a fearless battler of Mayor Daley, Royko has a style that runs to short graphs, heavy on the slang and sarcasm, fast with regional slurs. In his estimate, New Yorkers are rude, Californians weird, Texans "the world's tallest midgets." The tone is barroom banter, with all the subtlety of an ad for Lite Beer.

Yet below this style lies plenty of substance. Royko is a tough reporter. He runs down sources and asks hard questions, exposes fools or crooks with an impartial hand. His hero is the fabled "little guy," who lives today in a dwindling region between Chicago's affluent suburbs and high-rise lakeshore. This Bungalow Man, as Royko styles him, holds to the traditional values of work, family, and male supremacy: "We're in the age of wimps. It is nothing to be ashamed of."

Actually, Royko is only mock macho; he likes to pound his readers both left and right. After a harangue against draft evaders and permissive judges, he turns on the "hallelujah-peddlers" who want prayer back in school. The column on "King Ron," our affable chief executive, should be required reading for voters this year.

A cynic with a heart, Royko reflects the anger of many Korean War vets who have watched their country slide into venality and "pasta chic." A spiral seems to have caught his own career, which began with the liberal Daily News and now emanates from the Republican Tribune. Royko is there by choice, evading the Australian who owns Chicago's other paper.

Times Literary Supplement (essay date 12 November 1971)

SOURCE: "Chicago's Machine-Minder," Times Literary Supplement, November 12, 1971, p. 1413.

[The following essay gives a British reviewer's opinion of Royko's 'unsympathetic' treatment of Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley in Boss.]

The boss in politics is largely an American phenomenon. There have been bosses around the world—Chamberlain in Birmingham, Daferre in Marseilles—but the boss has flourished most against the tightly knit ethnic background of American cities. Richard Joseph Daley, the Democratic mayor of Chicago, is the finest and, perhaps, final flowering of the Irish-American boss, one with Curley of Boston and Murphy in New York.

Mike Royko's portrait is unsympathetic. Few Chicago newspapermen admire Daley, although their editors and publishers, even if they don't love the Boss, are able to get along with him. But, unsympathetic, biased as it is, his book is a marvellously detailed analysis of what makes a boss tick; his strengths and weaknesses.

First, the man. Daley is an unfamiliar type to those whose views of American politics have been formed by the cinema or television. He lives a quiet, sedate, pious life. He is not interested in the trappings of power; his home, his life-style are resolutely lower-middle-class. His interest is power. And, because he has the secret of holding power, he has attracted support from outside his normal constituency. "Even Republican businessmen contribute money to the [Daley] Machine", Mr Royko notes, "more than they give to Republican candidates. Republicans can't do anything for them, but Daley can."

The man, his love and exercise of power, reached their zenith, for non-Chicagoans at least, during the Democratic National Convention of 1968. This was his convention. As a henchman put it, delegates must be impressed "that they are not just visiting Chicago, but Mayor Daley's Chicago". That Chicago, events demonstrated, was one of unbridled police ferocity. Demonstrators and reporters were beaten up. There...

(The entire section contains 6683 words.)

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