A splendidly detailed great American epic.




A gritty, down-and-dirty saga about the Irish politicos who “ruled Boston for nearly a century,” from 1902 to 1993.

Pulitzer Prize–winning ex–Boston Globe investigative reporter O'Neill provides a candid look at the political machinations that built, and destroyed, a legendary American city. He begins with the famine ships that arrived with the “bedraggled [Irish] newcomers” who became the scourge of Yankee Boston. These immigrants quickly learned that the only way they could lay claim to “jobs, education [and] religious tolerance” would be through bare-knuckle politics. Boston elected its first Irish mayor in 1884, but O'Neill begins with a portrait of the shrewd and magnetic John “Honey” Fitzgerald, maternal grandfather of John F. Kennedy, who served as mayor from 1906 to 1908 and again from 1910 to 1914. By this time, other ambitious Irishmen, such as the infamous Ward 8 boss Martin Lomasney and the combative Boston Common Councilman (and later four-time mayor) James Michael Curley, were also on the scene. All engaged in cloak-and-dagger political schemes to enhance their power, while Curley unabashedly used his position to enrich himself at the city's expense. As Machiavellian as they were charming, these men brought Boston into the modern era—and to the brink of bankruptcy. Mid-century redeemers such as Mayors John Hynes and John Collins and urban planner Ed Logue brought the city back through programs that renewed parts of the city at the expense of creating enmity between numerous social and ethnic groups. They left Mayor Kevin White the unenviable task of guiding Boston through the desegregation crisis of the 1970s. Eager to put the city's tumultuous past behind him, White focused on making Boston "world-class," while the last “mayoral mick,” Ray Flynn, attempted to make a city now increasingly divided between rich and poor livable for all.

A splendidly detailed great American epic.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-40536-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet