Five Books That Changed My Life: Paris Schutz

A reading list from Chicago Tonight’s lead political reporter

January 18, 2017 9:00 am

If you follow politics on the local level, you know Paris Schutz.

The man knows his way around City Hall, and he’s never been shy about giving Rahm or Bruce a good grilling.

A star political reporter at WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, the Emmy-nominated Schutz does his homework and then digs in. Graduating Magna Cum Laude with a degree in radio, television and film from Syracuse University certainly shaped him, but so did these not-for-the-beach books.

Below, his picks.

Boss by Mike Royko
“The seminal, exhaustively detailed, and even-handed book about the rise of Richard J. Daley. It should be required reading for all reporters if they want to understand what drives politics and government in Chicago. I always loved Royko as a kid because of the prescience and wit in his columns, but Boss shows what a brilliant and meticulous long-form journalist he was as well.” 


The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
“Also a must if you really want to know how Chicago ticks. The hellish depiction of life in the stockyards is almost too brutal to be true, and yet, this was the reality of early 20th century Chicago. I’ve always felt that Jurgis Rudkus, the Lithuanian central character, was one of the most tragic figures in all of American literature.” 


Wilson by A. Scott Berg
“I never thought that I would be so absorbed by a biography or our 28th president, but his life story is packed with drama: a populist figure who rose from humble beginnings to become an unlikely leader of the free world, a fierce moralist who changed the trajectory of American policy at home and abroad, a sensual romantic who lost his first wife while in office and then fell in love and remarried soon after, and ultimately a fighter who enjoyed major victories when he helped negotiate the Treaty of Versailles after World War I, only to suffer a crushing defeat when his own congress failed to ratify it.” 


The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
“These days, everyone is either liberal or conservative and people’s philosophies on a range of issues are entirely predictable. Ayn Rand’s belief in self-reliance, selfishness as a virtue, and her hatred of religion, cultural critics, or anything that she believed promoted ‘group think’ really opened my eyes to the fact that there could be hundreds of different kinds of ideology out there. The Fountainhead also has some of the most vividly described sex scenes this side of Fifty Shades of Grey.” 


An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
“This book isn’t overtly political, but it helped me understand why I love journalism so much. In history class, we are told about great individuals who came from nothing to achieve great things. An American Tragedy is about the dead bodies those individuals perhaps had to bury en route to achieving those great things. It is the ‘other’ American story. Journalism is about uncovering that ‘other’ American story. About debunking the story put forward by politicians in their own political interest, or by corporations or PR professionals.” 


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