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Early Royko

Up Against It in Chicago

With a New Foreword by Rick Kogan

Combining the incisive pen of a newspaperman and the compassionate soul of a poet, Mike Royko became a Chicago institution—in Jimmy Breslin’s words, "the best journalist of his time." Early Royko: Up Against It in Chicago will restore to print the legendary columnist’s earliest writings, which chronicle 1960s Chicago with the moral vision, ironic sense, and razor-sharp voice that would remain Royko’s trademark.

This collection of early columns from the Chicago Daily News ranges from witty social commentary to politically astute satire. Some of the pieces are falling-down funny and others are tenderly nostalgic, but all display Royko’s unrivaled skill at using humor to tell truth to power. From machine politicians and gangsters to professional athletes, from well-heeled Chicagoans to down-and-out hoodlums, no one escapes Royko’s penetrating gaze—and resounding judgment. Early Royko features a memorable collection of characters, including such well-known figures as Hugh Hefner, Mayor Richard J. Daley, and Dr. Martin Luther King. But these boldfaced names are juxtaposed with Royko’s beloved lesser knowns from the streets of Chicago: Mrs. Peak, Sylvester "Two-Gun Pete" Washington, and Fats Boylermaker, who gained fame for leaning against a corner light pole from 2 a.m. Saturday until noon Sunday, when his neighborhood tavern reopened for business.

Accompanied by a foreword from Rick Kogan, this new edition will delight Royko’s most ardent fans and capture the hearts of a new generation of readers. As Kogan writes, Early Royko "will remind us how a remarkable relationship began—Chicago and Royko, Royko and Chicago—and how it endures."

232 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 1967, 2010

Chicago and Illinois

Media Studies


“[These] columns show that Royko, undeniably a talented writer even if he never graduated from high school, was first and foremost a born narrative storyteller. . . . Like missing teeth, ears, fingers, and legs, Chicago and Chicago journalism remain the less for the passing of Mike Royko.”

Richard Junger | Journal of Illinois History

Table of Contents

Foreword by Rick Kogan

I May Be Wrong, But I Doubt It

The Holiday Spirits of Mrs. Tooze

Good Teen-Ager a Pain

A Sacrifice to Antipoverty Gods

Bugs in the Bug

Supreme Injustice

No Offense, But. ..

The Fine Art of Elevator-Riding

A Nonconformist Nonconfrontation

Down the Alley of Life

The Good Life

Wow! What an Ear for Music

With Self-Confidence and Dinner

The Chocolate-covered Ants Did It

The Overtrained Computer

The Pursuit of Leisure

People I Have Known, or Heard Of, or Imagined

Dutch Louie

Surefooted Mrs. Peak

Split-Level King of the Playboys

A Flaw in the Gray Flannel

Patriotic Pat Swings Again

Big Whitey’s Way

Unbucklable Joey

"It Takes Brains"

The New Rumble in Teen Sociology

Folk Hero of the Future

Politics, Chicago Style

The Sidewalk Fraternity

The Despres Stomp

The Ups and Downs of Frankie

Tree-Breaking Ceremony

A New Era in the Study of Literature

Rogues’ Gallery

The "Hit" Parade

Murray the Talent Scout

Most Likely to Succeed

Pillars of the Community

Not With a "Bang" But a "Click"

Hoods on Beam

Mob Stacks the Deck on Vice Squad

Almost as Good as a Solution

Some Token of Appreciation

The Saga of Peanuts Panczko

Bomb Investigators Keep Their Cool

Minority Report

Outside Influences

A Bizarre Experiment

Brotherhood Week

Of the People, By the People

Your Move, Dr. King

A Gas of a Demonstration

Mink Now!

It Seems Like Only Yesterday

This Sporting Life

Priceless Baseball Interviews

Crime of the Century Mere Child’s Play

One Man’s Solution to Those Miserable Mashieless


Another Smashing Victory for Goraie

Mutt of the Year

Paragons of Perseverance

All for Love

Constructive Chaos

The Love Song of Old Giovanni

Shocking Research Old News

Shot Down by Love

The Kiss


But Not Forgotten

The Young Man and the Sea

Social Coup of the Year

Old-Time Butcher Shop Gets the Ax

The Great (Skid Row) Society

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