As District Attorney, Thomas E. Dewey cracked Tammany Hall, thought to be the United States' most powerful and corrupt political machine. Yet as Governor, despite his state's vast resources, he could not crack the Upper New York State machine. In this modern-day David vs. Goliath tale, a 24-year-old college professor and engineer leads the challenge to liberate and transform his own upstate community from a 40-year reign of political corruption.
In the first half of the 20th century, Michael "Big Mike" Tecumseh Smith founded a political machine which, after aligning with Albany's Democratic powerhouse Dan O'Connell, became impossible to crack. After several generations of inept management, Dr. Paul Van Buskirk rejected his own prominent Republican family's views and publicly called for change. The move, led by Van Buskirk's ruthless, methodical organization, led to the Citizens Party defeating the Democrats in 1963.
In this political memoir, Dr. Van Buskirk details the thrilling events leading up to the Citizens Party's nationally-recognized victory over the political machine. It also recounts how, once in office, the Citizens were inspired by President Johnson's progressive War on Poverty to channel their ingenuity and community spirit into revitalizing their decrepit mill town, steering it to become a federally-designated Model City while also earning Look Magazine's highly-competitive All-America City Award.
With a sharp wit and a careful eye, Dr. Van Buskirk shares shrewd political observations and offers cautionary advice about the stark differences between running a political campaign and running a city. He also discusses the behind-the-scenes intrigue – including an attempt on his life – that eventually led to the Citizens Party's demise. Despite occurring half a century ago, the tales of corruption and political scheming, as well as the people's rise from apathy to action, will resonate in a current era of political upheaval.