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From the PublisherRobert A. Caro author of The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York At last! Here is a book, vivid and insightful, that finally rescues from obscurity a man who deserves a major place in American political history. From the glory of his governorship to the tragedy of his final years, here he is — the Happy Warrior.
Terry Golway author of The Irish in America Robert Slayton reminds us why Al Smith is one of America's great political heroes. With great affection, Slayton tells the story of a man who worked his way up from poverty, but who never forgot the immigrants and their children in the old neighborhood. Robert Slayton has given us a touching portrait of an honorable man who showed that government could make a difference in the lives of the poor, the powerless, and the disenfranchised. What an antidote for today's corrosive cynicism about politics and politicians!
Harold Evans author of The American Century Rich and relevant: Robert Slayton's portrait of the colorful and appealing Al Smith is rich in new detail — and very relevant to the political controversies of today. The 'Happy Warrior' nominated by FDR for the Democratic ticket in 1924 (and again in 1928), New York Governor Smith was a populist Catholic who confronted the KKK bigots with tolerance, integrity, and humor, long before John F. Kennedy finally exorcised the anti-Catholic demons from American politics...or did he? An America in search of heroes will find sustenance in this honorable man of the city. Al Smith was one of those people who make a reality of American ideals.
Hasia Diner author of Erin's Daughters in America Robert Slayton has presented readers with a 'real American hero' and with an exemplary biographical narrative. The Al Smith who jumps out of these pages is a paradigm of urban America, someone who had been shaped by its streets, and who dedicated his public life to making them livable for all.
Jack Beatty author of The Rascal King: The Life and Times of James Michael Curley, 1874-1958 Alfred Emanuel Smith: the name once had a resonance. It stood for inclusion, for immigrant hope of assimilation, for the fulfillment of the dream vision of America — a country without bigotry, your land and mine. In defeat Al Smith meant more to Americans than all but the great presidents have meant in victory, and in this needed reinterpretation of Smith, Robert Slayton shows us why.