Grondahl's classic biography of Albany's "mayor for life," now available in paperback.
In his youth, Erastus Corning 2d was a close friend of Nelson Rockefeller; his father was lieutenant governor of New York (and ran unsuccessfully for the top spot against FDR), and his grandfather was a railroad rival of Cornelius Vanderbilt. With a pedigree like that, Corning might have been expected to make a splash on the national stage. Instead, he seemed content to remain mayor of Albany, New York, for a mind-boggling 42 years, involving himself in the minutia of running the state capital and--incidentally--maintaining one of the best-oiled and longest-running political machines in the country. Paul Grondahl, a reporter for the Albany Times-Union
, chronicles Corning's unusual life and times in Mayor Corning: Albany Icon, Albany Enigma
Even for those readers unfamiliar with either the man or the city he ran, Mayor Corning makes for interesting reading. Not only is Corning himself a fascinating character--his nearly lifelong relationship with a woman not his wife is refreshingly ambiguous in this age of in-your-face political sex scandal--but the inner workings of Albany politics he describes hark back to an earlier era of Tammany Hall-style corruption, fraud, and influence peddling, the likes of which are seldom seen today. Interesting characters, compelling stories, and a healthy dose of shady dealing--Mayor Corning has it all.