Tonawanda News

Features

December 2, 2013

BOOK NOOK: Not much changes in the political climate

Tonawanda News — You may wonder why state governments — how should I put this — sometimes tend to give the impression they seem to be corrupt, or at least occasionally resemble something of a murky swamp of dishonesty. Read a book that tells a story about New York’s, and that of William “Plain Bill” Sulzer, turn-of-the-last-century governor and the only one ever impeached in the state’s history, and you’ll wonder even more.

Jack O’Donnell’s “Eye of the Tiger” explains a slice of machine politics as it was, circa 1900-1915, Sulzer is undermined by Tammany Hall politics. A reform-minded congressman and governor is accused of diverting campaign contributions to buy investments for himself, accusations designed to get him out of the picture. Sulzer becomes an obstacle to the political machine, and is railroaded out of his elected office — he bravely came back, and was elected to the state assembly — on splinter-party tickets.

A good story. A typical story, a contemporary story if you could only include the cigar smoke, a cloak-and-dagger politics-as-usual story. Julius Caesar had similar problems. The book has insights for those unfamiliar with the situation, and that, in a way, is its saving grace.

O’Donnell has set up his narrative to read more like a mystery story than a history book, so the intrigue tends to be more palpable than the broad sweep of events. It should be noted that the author is a lobbyist by profession (and Canisius College and UB Law School graduate); involving himself in state politics likely comes naturally, and he has presented a book with the feeling of a fan’s notes disguised as a novel.

That’s not easy, incidentally. The bibliography suggests research was done, but the book is largely fact and interpretation offered in a page-turning, now-what style, which makes it less the definitive story of Tammany Hall’s influence on state politics and more a gateway book for readers, perhaps in high school, interested in this sordid, fascinating era of American history.

Text Only
Features
  • sig - critter companions RGB CRITTER COMPANIONS: Gardening with chickens

    There is no need to get mad as a wet hen if you want to juggle flourishing flower beds, viable vegetable gardens and free-range chickens.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - critter companions RGB CRITTER COMPANIONS: Let's unlabel our pets

    Several weeks ago, I mentioned how we should not use labels. I said that labels are circular, meaning that if we use them we just will end up where we started. An example of a label is saying that “all scarlet macaws are vindictive” or “all pit bulls are aggressive.”

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE Volunteers honored 1 040614.jpg Women Who Move the City (and beyond)

    April 7, 2014 2 Photos

  • SUN LIFE POUND 1040614j jpg.jpg Rock n' roll fitness

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - crib notes RGB Enough of this winter -- it's time for spring

    Midway through separating the bits of dog food from the shredded paper towel pieces on the saturated bed sheet that had been strewn across the dining-room table, I finally realized I’d had enough.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - critter companions RGB Dear readers, it's me, Kenny

    I have bad knees. I have been told to blame my grandmother. I have also been told to blame her for my love of animals. Today, we celebrate the 100th Critter Companions column.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE mummies 1 033014.jpg 'Mummies of the World' exhibit arrives in Buffalo

    As visitors arrived for the recent NCAA basketball tournament games in Buffalo, a much older group of visitors arrived via motorcade at the Buffalo Museum of Science — but these newcomers to the Queen City wouldn’t be seeking out a place to have a beer between games or where to find the region’s best chicken wings.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - double trouble RGB Years later, still spending sunny days on Sesame Street

    I always knew we’d hit “the Elmo years.”

    Going into parenthood, it seemed like a given. Both my husband and I  were “Sesame Street” fans from childhood ourselves, and we were happy enough to pass it on to a new generation. And we knew, having friends with children of the applicable age, that in this day and age “Sesame Street” equalled Elmo, the squeaky-voiced “furry red menace” (thus dubbed by Oscar the Grouch) of parents everywhere.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE Local Restaurant Week 2 033014.jpg Back for another bite

    As spring finally starts to unfold in Western New York, residents are likely eager to get out of their houses — and organizers of Local Restaurant Week hope they’ll consider eating out as they do that.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wineries invite visitors to take a Taste of the Trail

    If one weekend of food and wine pairings is a good thing, two weekends of food and wine pairings must be even better.

    For the first time, the Taste of the Trail event, which takes place Friday through April 6 and April 11 to 13 on the Niagara Wine Trail, will be split into two weekends, with half the trail’s wineries taking part the first weekend and half the second, said Elizabeth Maute, wine trail coordinator.

    March 31, 2014