MARIO CUOMO: A Biography by Robert S. McElvaine

MARIO CUOMO: A Biography

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A timely--and favorable--biography of New York's governor, by the author of The Great Depression (1983), The End of the Conservative Era, (1987), etc. This is a personable, facilitative biography, but one that suffers somewhat (despite his early protestations to the contrary) from McElvaine's gushiness. He never misses an opportunity to remind us why a particular trait renders Cuomo the man for 1988: Cuomo's deep religious faith translates into concern for improving the lot of his brother; Cuomo's workaholism translates into a man willing to give his all to serve others; Cuomo's refusal to take a political action because ""that would be a sin"" translates into a man so steeped in solid values that he will always do the right thing for his public; etc. Were McElvaine to let Cuomo's life story speak for itself, however, the effect might be more telling. As it is, we see a man of obvious integrity, riddled by Catholic guilt over the time he spends away from his family, yet driven to do more and more to help others. McElvaine sees Cuomo's integrity as just the tonic for a people so desperate for integrity that they ""were prepared to accept someone [Oliver North] who was at least truthful about the fact that he was a liar."" Sometimes, McElvaine's willingness to avert his eyes from Cuomo's flaws is grating, as when he quotes the governor's brother explaining how Cuomo will cheat at pool in order to win, so great is his competitive urge. ""This cheating,' McElvaine writes, ""should in no sense be taken as an indication that he would as an officerholder have any propensity toward 'cheating' the public. That would be impossible for someone with Cuomo's character."" A sound, if biased, biography.

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1988
Publisher: Scribners