A Prayer for the City

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.

“A full-scale portrait of a struggling American metropolis that brings to mind such classics of urban reportage and analysis as J. Anthony Lukas’s Common Ground and Nicholas Lemann’s The Promised Land.”

New York Times Book Review

“An extraordinary book, an insider’s account of the daily workings of a big-city administration.”

New York Review of Books

“Brilliant and compelling…A Prayer for the City movingly captures the poignancy–the hope and heartbreak–of urban government in America.”

Robert A. Caro

“A fascinating, humane portrait of the ills of urban America.”

The New Yorker


  • New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year
  • Finalist for the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award