Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York

What the critics are saying.

“Soffer has written a fascinating biography of New York City Mayor Ed Koch-but he has done so much more than that. He skillfully uses Koch's reign to tell the story of the city from 1978 to 1990, a rags-to-riches saga with many lessons for today's cities as they cope with enormous financial pressure. Whether or not you are a New Yorker, this marvelously told tale of a mayor and his city will grip you.” — Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University, author of A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America

“Soffer is able to bring Ed Koch into critical focus through his narrative gaze, clean writing style, and expert use of a dazzling array of sources. By using such a colorful character as Koch, Soffer illuminates the way neoliberalism has made, remade, and unmade our urban landscape. He illuminates the importance of Koch in local and national politics and represents a larger phenomenon in America life. By thoroughly examining the politics and policies of his mayoralty, he allows us to see more clearly the world in which we live.” — Richard Greenwald, Drew University, author of The Triangle Fire, the Protocols of Peace, and Industrial Democracy In Progressive Era New York

“‘How’m I doin’?”, Ed Koch’s tagline, promised New Yorkers accountability and order after a fiscal crisis that brought the city to the verge of bankruptcy, the Son of Sam serial murders, and the racial mayhem of the July 1977 blackout. Brilliant and witty, jovial and magnetic, Koch was also a mean, stubborn, and polarizing figure. Jonathan Soffer brilliantly navigates us through the sea of local, national, and international events that created the phenomenon that is ‘Hizzoner.’” — Craig Steven Wilder, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, author of A Covenant with Color: Race and Social Power in Brooklyn

“Jonathan Soffer’s is now the go-to book on Ed Koch and his mayoralty. Critical yet even-handed, it is lucidly written, theoretically sophisticated, and solidly sourced in interviews and archives. And it offers fresh perspectives on many aspects of New York's history in the 1960s-1990s, notably the neoliberal turn, the fiscal crisis, racial and religious relations, and the interlinked trinity of gentrification, homelessness, and redevelopment.” — Mike Wallace, City University of New York, coauthor of the Pulitzer-Prize winning Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898

“Soffer’s biography is a successful exploration of the history of one of New York's most charismatic mayors. It delivers on its promises on several levels, telling the history of Ed Koch the person, analyzing his politics, and then situating the story within the radical changes of Koch's political activism. This book is well written, accessible, thoughtful, and deals with a subject many New Yorkers care deeply about.” — Sven Beckert, Harvard University, author of The Monied Metropolis: New York City and the Consolidation of the American Bourgeoisie

“New York admirers will find much to relish here, while those interested in learning how municipal governments work, especially during financial crises, will be especially enlightened by Soffer’s efforts. Recommended.”—Richard Drezen, Brooklyn, NY, Library Journal

“[Soffer] has written a precise and scrupulously honest, Marxian-inflected assessment of Koch’s mayoralty.”—Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic

“. . . given the constraints on governing and the penny-wise cuts that the mayor inherited (as well as his self-inflicted scars), Professor Soffer corrects the scholars’ calumny and elevates Mr. Koch to the Olympian heights that the survey reserved for America’s greatest mayor.”—Sam Roberts, The New York Times

“ ... Mr. Soffer’s book seeks to give Eddie Koch from Ocean Parkway his due. And it does. You exit this biography believing that it’s Mr. Koch's New York, for better or for worse, that we now inhabit. ”—Tom Acitelli, The New York Observer

“ ... This fascinating, entertainingly written and illuminating book, the best piece of contemporary urban history Iíve read in a long time, is a marvel of even-handedness and balance. It has forced me to rethink Koch and what it means to be progressive and pro-urban in a neo-liberal era. ”—Phillip Lopate The Millions

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