Golden: How Rod Blagojevich Talked Himself out of the Governor's Office and into Prison

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Overview

No one did political corruption quite like Rod Blagojevich. The 40th governor of Illinois made international headlines in 2008 when he was roused from his bed and arrested by the FBI at his Chicago home. He was accused of running the state government as a criminal racket and, most shockingly, caught on tape trying to barter away President-elect Barack Obama’s US Senate seat. Most politicians would hunker down, stay quiet, and fight the federal case against them. But as he had done for years, Rod Blagojevich ...

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Golden: How Rod Blagojevich Talked Himself out of the Governor's Office and into Prison

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Overview

No one did political corruption quite like Rod Blagojevich. The 40th governor of Illinois made international headlines in 2008 when he was roused from his bed and arrested by the FBI at his Chicago home. He was accused of running the state government as a criminal racket and, most shockingly, caught on tape trying to barter away President-elect Barack Obama’s US Senate seat. Most politicians would hunker down, stay quiet, and fight the federal case against them. But as he had done for years, Rod Blagojevich proved he was no ordinary politician. Instead, he fueled the headlines, proclaiming his innocence on seemingly every national talk show and street corner he could find.

Revealing evidence from the investigation never before made public, Golden is the most complete telling yet of the Blagojevich story, written by two Chicago reporters who covered every step of his rise and fall and spent years sifting through evidence, compiling documents, and conducting more than a hundred interviews with those who have known Blagojevich from his childhood to his time in the governor’s office. Dispensing with sensationalism to present the facts about one of the nation’s most notorious politicians, the authors detail the mechanics of the corruption that brought the governor down and profile a fascinating and frustrating character who embodies much of what is wrong with modern politics. With Blagojevich now serving 14 years in prison, the time has come for the last word on who Blagojevich was, how he was elected, how he got himself into trouble, and how the feds took him down.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Through indefatigable reporting and deft writing, [Chase and Coen] take us into a fascinating, Byzantine world of Chicago politics and power that largely goes unseen."  —David Mendell, author of Obama: From Promise to Power

"This is a lively, intimate primer on the bad and the ugly of Chicago and Illinois politics that reads like a novel by reporter-authors who were there from Blagojevich's promising beginning to humiliating end."  —Jim Nowlan, senior fellow at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs

"Golden is the definitive book on former governor Rod Blagojevich. The saga of his life and two trials provide a road map to the highest levels of corruption in Illinois. This cautionary tale leaves us with the task of ending the corrupt political culture that made his crooked wheeling and dealing possible."  —Dick Simpson, University of Illinois political science professor and former Chicago alderman

"[A] definitive account of one of America's most morally reprehensible political-corruption sagas."  —Kirkus Reviews

"All those interested in the Blago drama or political intrigue in general can dive into this book with relish."  —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"[The authors]offer a nuanced context of political corruption overlaid with Blagojevich's extraordinarily flamboyant personality, from the profanity to the hair obsession and outsized ego." — Booklist

"Golden tells the story of Blagojevich's downfall with admirable detail, although it can be a slog at times." — Illinois Issues magazine

Kirkus Reviews
In-depth investigative report on the rise and fall of the embattled former governor of Illinois. Chicago Tribune staff writers Coen (Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob, 2010) and Chase team up in this account of Rod Blagojevich's attempt to sell the Senate seat once belonging to Barack Obama. Ultimately, this heavily detailed narrative serves as "a morality tale for the nation." Blagojevich's road to corruption began long before the 2008 election, and the authors meticulously track the future politician from his Chicago boyhood days all the way to the governor's mansion. Blagojevich hardly had time to settle into the mansion before the media began typecasting him as an inept, hair-obsessed, comic figure--though as time soon revealed, Blagojevich's lack of integrity was hardly the result of his hair, but rather, the big head beneath it. A man drunk on money and power--Coen and Chase report that "during his six years as governor, [he] and his wife spent $400,000 on clothes--more than they spent on their nanny," and "$4,000 for a single custom-fitted suit, of which he bought more than a dozen a year"--Blagojevich is depicted as an affable con artist who could hardly manage his own finances, let alone those of the state. More jester than tragic hero, Blagojevich's fall from grace confirmed what many constituents were beginning to see: He was a man so caught up in his act that he fooled even himself. An exhaustively detailed, definitive account of one of America's most morally reprehensible political-corruption sagas.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569763391
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/14/2012
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 985,582
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeff Coen and John Chase each have spent more than a decade on the staff of the Chicago Tribune. Coen was a beat reporter at the city’s criminal courts building and its federal courthouse and now works with the paper’s political team. Chase covered Blagojevich from the start of his first campaign for governor and helped push the Tribune’s investigations of his questionable fund-raising practices and oddball political style. Jeff Coen is the author of Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob.

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Table of Contents

Authors' Note ix

1

Part I The Young Rod Blagojevich

1 Our Kind of Guy 7

2 Leaving Cragin 23

3 A Tap on the Shoulder 45

Part II A Public Rise

4 Congressman Blagojevich 63

5 A Run for Governor 81

6 Victory 107

Part III The Governor

7 Taking the Reins 133

8 A Scattered Leader 147

9 Pay to Play 163

10 The Pope and the Rabbi 173

Part IV A Federal Probe

11 "Public Official A" 189

12 Stuart the Bizarre 211

13 Endgame 233

14 "I've got this thing…" 257

Part V The Trials

15 Arrested 299

16 His Day in Court 323

17 A Second Trial 383

18 "My Words" 407

Epilogue: A Time of Reckoning 457

Afterword 467

Acknowledgments 469

Index 473

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