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William Donald Schaefer

, 456 pages

35 halftones

September 1999
List price:$40.00
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William Donald Schaefer

A Political Biography

Baltimore's "Do It Now" mayor, two-term Maryland governor, and recently elected comptroller of the treasury, William Donald Schaefer may be the most colorful character ever to play on the Free State's political stage—though competition for the honor is intense. In this wonderfully readable account, Fraser Smith explores the formative influences, backroom deals, personal relationships, quirky Baltimorisms, vicious fights, civic pride, splashes in the National Aquarium seal pool, victories, defeats, draws—everything that makes Schaefer's career colorful and that helps us to understand the man himself.

A seasoned reporter who covered Schaefer's terms as mayor and governor for the Baltimore Sun, Smith takes a serious-minded but also throughly human-interest approach to his subject—a study in character and the capacity of certain people to make a difference in the story of their time and locale. In Schaefer's case, the story concerns the struggle of Baltimore to survive and, if possible, renew itself. Smith draws on a sizable body of documentary source material; his scores of interviews provide him with juicy quotation and vibrant commentary. The book includes a gallery of photos, most never before published, which recall memorable moments in Schaefer's eventful career.

William Donald Schaefer: A Political Biography will fascinate Maryland voters, appeal to students of twentieth-century America, and engage anyone who loves a good story well told.

"His life in politics had been vouchsafed by do gooders, club house operators, slick businessmen, and others. He managed to find the best in each of these without being a servant to any. He was a classic 1950s-style Can-Do man, a veteran of the Second World War, a holdover from the time in American life when learning from experience and respected elders was a way of life. He was a career politician who ran for office to serve—to work for people, to care about their welfare. He wanted to think of himself—and to have others think of him—as a distinguished city father, a public servant. He seemed to be the last Baltimorean to see how well he had succeeded."—from the Preface

C. Fraser Smith is an editorial writer for the Baltimore Sun.

"Schaefer's story, as told here, appeals beyond the state's borders, showing how one seemingly ordinary man made a difference in attacking the most serious social and economic problems government faces—no small lesson for an era of raging cynicism about politicians and their motives."

"How do you write about an unpredictable hothead? Very carefully, says C. Fraser Smith the Sun editorial writer whose fine biography of William Donald Schaefer is new for Johns Hopkins Press."

"Fraser Smith has written a readable and enjoyable book—an insider's look at the political career of William Donald Schaefer. With superb language and a fine ear for the telling anecdote, Smith offers us wonderful insights into Schaefer's personality and actions. The book is an important contribution to our knowledge of this fascinating man, a compelling analysis of his personality, and a balanced and convincing account of his achievements and failings."