The University of Wisconsin Press

Biography / Journalism


The World of Mike Royko
Doug Moe

The first biography of Chicago's great journalist. If you ever wanted to sit on a bar stool at the Billy Goat Tavern next to Royko, now you can.

"One of the 25 most important Chicagoans of the century."
—Chicago Magazine

"Through the years my family filled many of his columns, some critical and some supportive. But whether you agreed with him or not, you had to respect his honesty and his love for the city. No one captured Chicago like Mike Royko, and his many fans will savor this book capturing his colorful life."—Mayor Richard M. Daley

This illustrated biography is the first account of the colorful life of Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko, Pulitzer Prize winner, best-selling author, and legendary journalist who personified Chicago in all its rough-edged charm. Drawing on exclusive photos and interviews with Royko's family and intimates, the book chronicles Royko's rise from a "flat-above-a-tavern" youth—raised above a bar on Chicago's Polish northwest side—to one of the best-known names in American journalism.

Readers will get the inside scoop on Royko's epic battles with Mayor Richard J. Daley and other politicians and his hilarious columns featuring "Slats Grobnik." They'll also meet a softer, largely unknown, side of Royko, through the love letters he sent to his wife-to-be from an Air Force base in Washington State.

More than 100 photos—many never before available to the public—capture the man and his times. Millions of readers—in 800 newspapers around the world—followed Royko's work and life. In The World of Mike Royko — he lives again.


"He typed the last page of Boss late on a Saturday afternoon in 1970 in his office at the Chicago Daily News. Royko ended his book by quoting something Alderman Paddy Brauler had said in 1955, when Daley was first elected. 'Chicago ain't ready for reform yet,' Brauler had said. Royko's conclusion: 'And in 1970, like it or not, it wasn't getting any.'

Royko pulled the page from the typewriter, put it under the others in the large stack, and walked to Riccardo's, a Chicago restaurant and bar on Rush Street near the newspaper. The bar was quiet and Royko ordered a martini, not his usual drink of choice. This was, after all, quite a moment.

The bartender, who knew him, said, 'What's going on, Mike? Celebrating?'

'I guess so,' Royko said. 'I just finished a book.'

'Yeah?' the bartender said. 'Me, too.' He reached under the bar and handed Royko a paperback. 'You can read it. It's by Mickey Spillane.'"

Doug Moe is the author of several books and a columnist for the Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin. The Press is also publishing his new book, Lords of the Ring: The Triumph and Tragedy of College Boxing's Greatest Team.

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October 1999
128 pp.   80 b/w photos (est.)
10 x 9 1/2
Book icon
Cloth $14.95 t
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