Essay about Book Report of Plunkitt of Tammany Hall

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“An Analysis of Plunkitt of Tammany Hall”

William Bryce
History 1302
Austin Community College
November 30, 2011

The purpose of this book report is to analyze the themes in Plunkitt of Tammany Hall by William L. Riordon. Riordon’s purpose is to educate people about politics and to stimulate reform in their corrupt political system. The first theme of this book is Plunkitt’s use of patronage. He openly discusses quid pro quo: he gives people jobs, opportunities, and welfare services in exchange for their political allegiance. For example, he talks about giving young men opportunities to play in the baseball club or sing in the glee club. In exchange, they vote the way he tells them to. Plunkitt also supports his voters in other
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The author is successful in executing his purpose. By using interviews with Plunkitt he paints an unflattering picture of the political boss. The book helped educate the public about the political machines. After it was published, political bosses like Plunkitt were removed from power by the progressive movement and reforms like the Galveston Plan. In 2005, a century after the book was first published, Edward O’ Donell of The New York Times called the book “a classic piece of American literature.”5 In my opinion the book is very readable, and thought-provoking. It forced me to compare the political system at the turn of the century with our current system and helped me to realize that they aren’t tremendously different and that’s more than a little depressing.


1 Andres Tijerina and William E. Montgomery, vol. 2 of Building A Democratic Nation: A History Of the United States, 1877 to Present (Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, 2011), 78-79. 2 William L. Riordan, Plunkitt of Tammany Hall (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1994), 49. 3 Ibid., 76-77. 4 Ibid., 73. 5 Edward O’ Donell, “The Sage of Tammany Hall,” The New York Times, August 28, 2005, (accessed November 29, 2009).
Tijerina, Andres and Montgomery, William E. Vol. 2 of Building A