The novel is for readers who are tired of the flood of copycat genre categories: lawyers who improbably lead exciting lives, cynical detectives, spies, serial killers, vampires, and zombies. How about a story that draws the reader into the real (well, mostly) world of the cities that touch the lives of most people in America? My hope is that it appeals to readers who have never heard of the ICMA Code of Ethics or read the charter of the city they live in.
But it might be useful in other ways, too. Playing With Fire has been required reading in several graduate programs in public administration, and even in the curriculum of the National Fire Academy. Like that book, State of the City is fiction, but it is based on real events, conflicts, and characters that are faced by those who work in and near city governments. As a bonus, the book includes discussion questions, developed both for book club groups and classroom use.
The central theme of State of the City is the tension between state and city governments, and the increasing tendency for state legislators to use their cities as convenient whipping boys to further their own political careers. So it should be of interest to students of intergovernmental relations, although I hope in a somewhat less dry treatment that one would find in a text book on the subject. A novel idea: learn about government, and enjoy yourself in the process.
Other themes and topics covered in State of the City: managing and leading people, ethics, relationships between elected officials and professional staff, budgeting, and human resources. But please don’t let these scare you away. My own management mentors include Star Trek’s Jean-Luc Picard and P.D. James’s detective, Adam Dalgliesh, but the nuggets of wisdom I get from them don’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.
State of the City is available in both print and e-book (Kindle) formats.
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