Smith considered himself an Assemblyman. His record as governor is based on the solid understanding of politics he acquired in those years. It was also fostered by his encounter, at a decisive stage, with a group of reformers and social workers, including Belle Moskowitz who became his chief political strategist. Smith’s own great contribution was to show how reform could be made practicable.
As governor, Smith fought a running battle with an obstructive legislature; he was able to reorganize New York State’s sprawling executive departments, protect women and children in industry, strengthen workmen’s compensation laws and shorten their working hours, stop the handouts of state resources to private companies, and expand recreational areas for the benefit of the public. He cut taxes while building hospitals, schools and low-cost housing developments. When the legislature balked, he appealed to the people on radio, and they responded with avalanches of letters and telegrams to their representatives. The dauntless spirit with which he battled his adversaries earned him the title “The fighting Governor.”
After his defeat for the Presidency in 1928, Smith was able to hand on to his successor — a comparatively inexperienced politician named Franklin D. Roosevelt — a working state government and a blueprint for social reform which Roosevelt would put to good use.
At the time of her death in 1965 Frances Perkins was working on a book about Al Smith as she knew him. Her notes, the few chapters she had written, and the oral history she recorded for Columbia University were turned over to Matthew and Hannah Josephson, who used them and their own exhaustive research to write this biography.
“The Josephsons, both authors in their own right... were invited to complete the unfinished biography of Smith that Frances Perkins left behind at her death in 1965. Finding only a rather bare start, they ended up writing it ‘90%’ themselves... The sections on Smith’s early years provide a delightful picture of the Old East Side and a thriving Tammany Hall... A happily executed portrait of an eminent and engaging American.” — Kirkus Reviews
“The most thorough study yet available of Smith’s career, and one that also pays considerable attention to Frances Perkins’ contributions to reform during the Progressive period and during Smith’s gubernatorial administrations... [a] useful biography of Al Smith.” — Joel A. Tarr, The American Historical Review
“The book reflects the warmth and vigour of its subject... The book’s principal contribution is its emphasis on Smith’s tremendous effectiveness both as a party leader and as a reformer. His quarter-century of almost continuous success was founded on exceptional memory, intense application, a sharp wit and shrewd appeals to the people. His enduring monuments are his reform of the state administration, his fight against the utilities, and his work in housing, conservation and social reform.” — Michael Simpson, History
“The Josephsons’ political portrait is of a man who was at one and the same time an ambitious and successful politician who could skillfully manipulate the party system, reward friends and punish enemies, hold personal grudges, yet temper his actions with genuine humanistic concern for the welfare of the first- and second-generation immigrants for whom he was both spokesman and symbol.” — John L. Shover, The Pacific Northwest Quarterly
“The Josephsons’ biography is... comprehensive, providing careful and discerning detail about Smith’s life and career.” — William W. Bremer, The Wisconsin Magazine of History
Born in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish immigrants from Romania and Russia, Matthew Josephson (1899-1978) graduated with an A.B. from Columbia University in 1920 and worked briefly as a reporter for the Newark Ledger. As an expatriate in Paris in the 1920s “to win a year or two of freedom and give all my time to writing,” he was associate editor of Broom: An International Magazine of the Arts (1922–24), befriended leading surrealists like Paul Éluard, André Breton, Louis Aragon and Max Ernst and was an editor at the magazine transition (1928–29). After returning to America, Josephson worked on Wall Street before joining the editorial staff of The New Republic. He contributed regularly to The Nation, The New Yorker, and the Saturday Evening Post.
His first book was a biography of Émile Zola, Zola and His Time: The History of His Martial Career in Letters (1928). Interested in 19th-century French literature, he also wrote the biographies Victor Hugo (1942) and Stendhal (1946). His books about American economic history include The Robber Barons: The Great American Capitalists, 1861–1901 (1934), which chronicles the lives of late 19th century barons of industry like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, Edison: A Biography (1959) and The Money Lords: The Great Finance Capitalists, 1925–1950 (1972). Josephson wrote two memoirs, Life Among the Surrealists (1962) and Infidel in the Temple (1967), and with his wife Hannah, a biography of Al Smith. He was elected a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1948.
Born in New York City, Hannah Josephson, née Geffen (1900-1976) studied at Hunter College and at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She married Matthew Josephson in 1920 and started working as a journalist. In 1949 she became librarian, editor of publications, publicity director and director of manuscript exhibition for the American Academy of Arts and Letters until her retirement in 1965.
Together with Malcolm Cowley, Hannah Josephson published Aragon: Poet of the Resistance. Her own books include The Golden Threads about women workers in the textile mills of Massachusetts between 1822 and 1850. With her husband she wrote Al Smith: Hero of the Cities which received the Van Wyck Brooks Award of the University of Bridgeport. Her last book was Jeanette Rankin: First Lady in Congress. Josephson also translated several books including Louis Aragon’s The Century Was Young, Philippe Soupault’s Age of Assassins and Gabrielle Roy’s The Tin Flute.
For over a decade, the work of five-time New York Times bestselling investigative reporter Peter Schweizer has sent shockwaves through the political universe.
Clinton Cash revealed the Clintons’ international money flow, exposed global corruption, and sparked an FBI investigation. Secret Empires exposed bipartisan corruption and launched congressional investigations. And Throw Them All Out and Extortion prompted passage of the STOCK Act. Indeed, Schweizer’s “follow the money” bombshell revelations have been featured on the front pages of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and regularly appear on national news programs, including 60 Minutes.
Now Schweizer and his team of seasoned investigators turn their focus to the nation’s top progressives—politicians who strive to acquire more government power to achieve their political ends.
Can they be trusted with more power?
In Profiles in Corruption, Schweizer offers a deep-dive investigation into the private finances, and secrets deals of some of America’s top political leaders. And, as usual, he doesn’t disappoint, with never-before-reported revelations that uncover corruption and abuse of power—all backed up by a mountain of corporate documents and legal filings from around the globe. Learn about how they are making sweetheart deals, generating side income, bending the law to their own benefits, using legislation to advance their own interests, and much more.
Profiles in Corruption contains tomorrow’s headlines.
Edison’s key contributions include the carbon microphone, the electric light bulb, electricity distribution systems, the phonograph and the motion-picture camera. Edison’s methods were also remarkable: halfway between the craftsman-tinkerer of the early 19th century and the scientist of today, he established and ran pioneering research laboratories with large staffs, yet lacked training in mathematics or the basic sciences.
Matthew Josephson’s Edison: A Biography won the Society of American Historians’Francis Parkman Prize in 1960.
“This is an outstanding biography... [Josephson] establishes the developing relationship between finance and invention which constitutes the basis for Edison’s success... [He] has mastered the substance of Edison’s inventive activity and has written of it quite authoritatively and vividly.” — Thomas P. Hughes, Technology and Culture
“... It is clear that there is reason to welcome yet another book about a man of whom so much has been written. It must have been precisely because so much in the Edison record is myth, fostered by adulators and by Edison himself that Mr. Josephson turned his skillful, corrective hand to a saga that may have seemed more familiar than it actually is. From his well-presented, well-written findings emerges a giant without whom much of life as we live it would simply not exist. It is a first-rate job that needed doing.” — John K. Hutchens, New York Herald Tribune
“A well-researched account of the life of one of America’s authentic folk heroes--Thomas Alva Edison--an original creator with a genius for strategic invention... Thoroughly absorbing, this significant volume is a competent contribution to the history of American science, and gives not only a sharply drawn picture of this self-educated giant of invention, but also of the beginnings of the telegraph, electrical, record, motion picture and automobile industries, as well as the sociological changes that were wrought by Edison’s practical discoveries.” — Kirkus Review
“A biography that is dignified, detailed, and objective, sprinkled with moments of humor, pathos, and drama... One of the chief virtues of this book is the care taken by the author to build up a realistic picture of Edison the man.” — F. Garvin Davenport,The American Historical Review
Once described by the Washington Post as “the most interesting mayor you’ve never heard of,” Pete Buttigieg, the thirty-seven-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has now emerged as one of the nation’s most visionary politicians. With soaring prose that celebrates a resurgent American Midwest, Shortest Way Home narrates the heroic transformation of a “dying city” (Newsweek) into nothing less than a shining model of urban reinvention.
Interweaving two narratives—that of a young man coming of age and a town regaining its economic vitality—Buttigieg recounts growing up in a Rust Belt city, amid decayed factory buildings and the steady soundtrack of rumbling freight trains passing through on their long journey to Chicagoland. Inspired by John F. Kennedy’s legacy, Buttigieg first left northern Indiana for red-bricked Harvard and then studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, before joining McKinsey, where he trained as a consultant—becoming, of all things, an expert in grocery pricing. Then, Buttigieg defied the expectations that came with his pedigree, choosing to return home to Indiana and responding to the ultimate challenge of how to revive a once-great industrial city and help steer its future in the twenty-first century.
Elected at twenty-nine as the nation’s youngest mayor, Pete Buttigieg immediately recognized that “great cities, and even great nations, are built through attention to the everyday.” As Shortest Way Home recalls, the challenges were daunting—whether confronting gun violence, renaming a street in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., or attracting tech companies to a city that had appealed more to junk bond scavengers than serious investors. None of this is underscored more than Buttigieg’s audacious campaign to reclaim 1,000 houses, many of them abandoned, in 1,000 days and then, even as a sitting mayor, deploying to serve in Afghanistan as a Navy officer. Yet the most personal challenge still awaited Buttigieg, who came out in a South Bend Tribune editorial, just before being reelected with 78 percent of the vote, and then finding Chasten Glezman, a middle-school teacher, who would become his partner for life.
While Washington reels with scandal, Shortest Way Home, with its graceful, often humorous, language, challenges our perception of the typical American politician. In chronicling two once-unthinkable stories—that of an Afghanistan veteran who came out and found love and acceptance, all while in office, and that of a revitalized Rust Belt city no longer regarded as “flyover country”—Buttigieg provides a new vision for America’s shortest way home.