Lords of the Levee

Trade Paper – $19.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2320-5
Publication Date
November 2005
Page Count
408 pages
Trim Size
6 x 8-1/2

Lords of the Levee

The Story of Bathhouse John and Hinky Dink
Lloyd Wendt and Herman Kogan
Winner of 2006 Illinois State Historical Society Book Award-Certificate of Excellence

In the early twentieth century, John Coughlin and Mike Kenna ruled Chicago's First Ward, the lucrative lakefront territory and nerve center of the city. It was one of the most infamous havens for vice in the entire country, home to gambling palaces with marble floors and mahogany bars, to a mini-city of thugs and prostitutes and down-and-outers, to dives and saloons of every description and a few beyond description. In short, the First was a gold mine. In a city where money talked, it made boisterous Bathhouse John and the laconic Hinky Dink Kenna the most powerful men in town. This classic of Chicago-style journalism traces the careers of these two operators as they rose to the top of the city's political world.
About the Author
Lloyd Wendt was a long-time Chicago journalist and the author of Chicago Tribune: The Rise of a Great American Newspaper (Rand McNally, 1979), and (with Herman Kogan) Give the Lady What She Wants: The Story of Marshall Field & Company (And Books, 1979).

Herman Kogan (1914-1989) spent fifty years covering Chicago, many with the Chicago Sun-Times. He is the author of Yesterday's Chicago (E.A. Seemann, 1976) and (with Lloyd Wendt) Give the Lady What She Wants: The Story of Marshall Field & Company (And Books, 1979).
"The gayest, gaudiest, grimmest book ever written about Chicago." --Chicago Tribune
"A convincing and detailed story of the political lives of two almost unbelievable characters."
--New York Times

"Lords of the Levee is the seminal account of the life and times of Bathhouse John Coughlin and Hinky Dink Kenna. With larceny in their hearts and a sawbuck in their pockets, the roguish duo fed an army of lodging house tramps and kidded the red-light courtesans of the Scarlet Patch as they stumbled through the doors of Billy Boyle's chophouse for a schooner of lager in exchange for their ironclad promise to vote 'right' come election day. Lords of the Levee is their story and an indispensable sourcebook on Chicago politics in the gaslight era, told with wit, wry, and wisdom, leaving the reader with the sense that nothing in this town was ever on the square."

—Richard C. Lindberg, author of Chicago by Gaslight: A History of Chicago's Netherworld, 1880-1920