Big Bill of Chicago

To some he was a humanitarian and builder. Others scorned him as a fake and friend of gangsters with "the carcass of a rhinoceros and the brain of a baboon." This rollicking history traces the rise of William Hale "Big Bill" Thompson, Chicago's famous reform mayor, from his upper class roots to his years as a teenaged cowboy, from his fame as a star athlete to the years as a master politician in a world where the ward boss ruled and whiskey for the voters cost a quarter a shot. Big Bill of Chicago profiles the whole brawling arena of city politics from the turn of the century to the Prohibition Era. It is a primer in the way American politics worked-and works-and a map along the countless winding ways even the dirtiest deal can lead to something great.

"Still the most authoritative, entertaining and widely read biography of William Hale Thompson, Chicago's last Republican mayor--Big Bill is a rollicking profile of a boisterous, larger-than-life persona who was 100-proof balderdash and buffoonery. " --Richard C. Lindberg, author of Return to the Scene of the Crime: a Guide to Infamous Places in Chicago

"William Hale Thompson . . . led a disgraceful life in full public view, and Lloyd Wendt and Herman Kogan spent four years of research and writing in preparing their authentic and absorbing reconstruction of it." --Chicago Tribune