In the course of his flamboyant career as an all-purpose activist, Saul Alinsky went from organizing working-class ethnics in one of Chicago’s most blighted neighborhoods to mapping out strategies for the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s. He enlisted allies—from Catholic clergymen to labor unionists and black activists, in battles waged against opponents from slumlords to the Eastman Kodak corporation. The range of Alinsky’s activities, the intensity of his beliefs, and his exhilarating mixture of crudeness and calculation almost vibrate off the pages of this passionate and inspiring biography.
This is an important account of a complex and idiosyncratic urban populist who insisted that power was the keystone of social change. Horwitt . . . produce[s] a comprehensive appraisal of Alinksy’s colorful confrontational tactics; as a community organizer and his influence on a succeeding generation of social activists . . . An insightful and well-written study.”—Library Journal