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Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite
Big Mike, Uncle Dan, and Me: How I Beat 20th Century New York State's Most Corrupt Political Machine by Dr. Paul Van Buskirk is a political memoir that captures a strong moment in US politics - how a college professor and engineer beat the odds and took leadership to liberate his upstate municipality from decades of political corruption. Moving away from his Republican views, Dr. Paul Van Buskirk set out to orchestrate the change that was badly needed for his municipality. Rallying behind the Citizens Party, he defeated the Dems’ political machine in 1963. The book is a compelling story that explores what it took to rid a municipality of the corrupt political machine.
In a well-written book brimming with US history, the author demonstrates with intelligence and skill how politically corrupt systems work and then shares the story of how he beat them. Readers will appreciate the importance of strategy and effective organization in this book. Dr. Paul Van Buskirk brings the setting in New York to life, taking readers through locales, and places like the Big Mike restaurant where corrupt politicians met to eat and drink, and Tammany Hall in Manhattan, which was once the headquarters of New York’s most corrupt political machine. The writing is crisp and readers will enjoy the author’s descriptive style and the irresistible narrative voice. Big Mike, Uncle Dan, and Me provides interesting episodes in the life of the man who defeated the corrupt political machine in his state and reformed the system for a more progressive form of leadership. Brilliantly written and utterly inspiring, Van Buskirk’s beautiful prose and his storytelling skills transform the book into a page-turning narrative. It is as entertaining as it is relevant, an eye-opening story that sets an example for any successful revolution.