New Book Digs into Chicago’s Challenges

September 29, 2021

Despite problems, Matt Rosenberg's book asserts there is a glimmer of hope for the Windy City

Our nation's big cities are broken. Urban progressive government badly undermines those it claims to lift up. In the fall of 2020, amidst riots, looting, and an alarming uptick in senseless killings, journalist Matt Rosenberg returned to his native Chicago to see if the city could dig itself out of the hot mess it's become after decades of liberal governance. Rosenberg lived in Chicago for thirty years, and came back to live there again amidst the turmoil of 2020. He traveled deep into the South Side to get stories usually left aside.

His new book "What, Next, Chicago? Notes of a Pissed-Off Native Son" peels back the layers of Chicago's violent crime, failing courts and schools, rotten finances, and ongoing Black exodus, and proposes a 2020s rescue plan for this emblematic American city.

It's for sale at Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. The book is published by Bombardier Books/Post Hill Press. Adam Bellow was editor.

Praise For The Book

"What has happened to Chicago? That's Matt Rosenberg's question, and mine as well. His loving tribute to our hometown is a moving, sensitive, humane and trenchant critical assessment. Read it and weep." - Glenn C. Loury, Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences, Brown University, author of "One By One from the Inside Out: Essays and Reviews on Race and Responsibility in America," and host of The Glenn Show at Substack.

"Matt Rosenberg writes about the Chicago Way in the Chicago Style of a Mike Royko...It’s a coherent, honest and balanced tour of the city’s perpetual corruption, unsafe streets, gawd-awful schools, ghost neighborhoods, financial legerdemain and the false Unified Theory of Systemic Racism that cloaks it all. Yet, What Next? is no helpless, hopeless wail, but a powerful and useful roadmap for a rebirth of a once-great city, based on the voices of Black families and others who don’t need academia to know what to do. Must reading for Chicago lovers." - Dennis Byrne, former Chicago Sun-Times editorial board member, author of "Madness: The War of 1812."

"Not since author Alex Kotlowitz ventured into Chicago's Henry Horner housing projects has an author offered such a thoughtful and thorough first-hand analysis of the state of urban disrepair. Leaders from cities across America would be well served by reading Matt Rosenberg's account of what's happening in Chicago and how not to make some of the same mistakes.” - Cyrus Krohn, former Publisher,, author of “Bombarded: How to Fight Back Against the Online Assault on Democracy.”

"Matt Rosenberg came of age in Chicago...and "What's Next, Chicago?" is about his see for himself what's gone so terribly wrong in the town once regarded as America's model metropolis. The on a gargantuan scale. Endless race hustling of the ugliest kind. An education system that has given up on the underclass. Corruption (that's) deep and intractable...But Rosenberg's scrupulous investigation is full of unexpected turns, and along the way he encounters those of every station who offer at least some reason for hope. Indeed, notwithstanding his clear-eyed record of the city's decline...his love of the city and its people shine through this brave and important book." - Harry Stein, author, "Why We Won't Talk Honestly About Race."

“Matt Rosenberg digs deep into the reasons why a city with such a strong economy can nonetheless lose its moorings. His take on Chicago’s politicians, schools and crime rates is caustic and impossible to ignore...Rosenberg's chapters grab hold of you, again and again, as he ranges across the most ravaged neighborhoods of the South Side, appreciating the never-quit determination of barbers, donut stand operators and gang members turned Uber drivers.” - George Anders, Senior Editor-at-Large, LinkedIn, and author of “The Rare Find: How Great Talent Stands Out.”

Rosenberg also writes at ChicagoSkooled. He worked on the BGA/Sun-Times Pulitzer-finalist Mirage tavern expose in 1977, and helped elect reform alderman Marion Volini of Edgewater to the Chicago City Council in 1978. He drove a Yellow Cab in Chicago, and cut his teeth as a suburban reporter for the late Lerner Newspapers in suburban Chicago covering crime, government, and regional airport issues. He later was an organizer, researcher, and communicator for suburban mayors battling Daley II on airport planning, and did airport-related work in Seattle for communities around Sea-Tac Airport. He was a Seattle Times op-ed columnist, a political blogger at sites including Red State, and founded and ran an originally-reported public records-driven 501(c)3 news database site called Public Data Ferret. His writing has been in City Journal, National Review Online, The Weekly Standard, and Jewish World Review. He was a senior editor of Mozilla's Open Standard.

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