ELGL Book Club – A Prayer for the City by Buzz Bissinger

Posted on March 27, 2015

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Did you read Detroit: An American Autopsy and participate ELGL’s Twittersation on Friday?

  • Yes – Great! Thanks!  What were your takeaways from the twittersation where we assessed Charlie LeDuff’s exploration of where Detroit went wrong?
  • No – Don’t worry, check out #ELGLBookClub and you can pour through a stirring investigation of city affairs quickly and see how our book club concept works.

As we wrap up our first book discussion, ELGL is excited to announce our next book we’ll be discussing in April – A Prayer for the City by Buzz Bissinger.


For four years, the Friday Night Lights author followed then Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell as he worked to bring his city back from economic decline while dealing with:

  • budget deficits so bad he openly proclaimed the possibility of a billion-dollar deficit
  • tragic violent crime including numerous high-profile murders and muggings in broad day light
  • rancorous union negotiations that would determine Philadephia’s fate far more than most elections
  • a housing authority with both a 20% vacancy rate and a waiting list of 13,000+ applicants
  • a civic reputation that was so bad,  “Philadelphia is not as bad as Philadelphians say it is” was once the slogan for his city’s tourism marketing campaign.

Buzz Bissinger captures both the highs of Rendell’s bringing in foreign shipbuilders to reopen Navy Yard & uniting whites, black and hispanics to win reelection in a landslide and the moments that lead him to say “a good portion of my job is spent on my knees.”

A Prayer for the City is Pulitzer Prize-winning Buzz Bissinger’s true epic of Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, an utterly unique, unorthodox and idiosyncratic leader who will do anything to save his city; take unions head on, personally lobby President Clinton to save 10,000 defense jobs, or wrestle Smiley the Pig on Hot Dog Day–all the while bearing in mind the enteral fickleness of constituents whose favor may hinge on a missed garbage pick-up or an overzealous meter maid. It is also the story of citizens in crisis: a woman fighting ceaselessly to give her great-grandchildren a better life, a father of six who may lose his job at the Navy Shipyard, and a policy analyst whose experiences as a crime victim tempt her to abandon her job and ideals.
Heart-wrenching and hilarious, alive with detail and insight, A Prayer for the City describes a city on its knees and the rare combination of political courage and optimism that may be the only hope for America’s urban centers.

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