POLITICS AND PASTA

HOW I PROSECUTED MOBSTERS, REBUILT A DYING CITY, ADVISED A PRESIDENT, DINED WITH SINATRA, SPENT FIVE YEARS IN A FEDERALLY-FUNDED GATED COMMUNITY, AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE

A cheeky tell-all from a man with a lot to tell: Providence's notorious felon mayor, credited with cleaning up the city in the dirtiest possible way.

Mike Stanton's bestseller The Prince of Providence (2003) did not paint a rosy picture of the former mayor, who was once ousted from office on an assault charge and once sent to federal prison for five years for racketeering. Now a free man, the enigmatic politician wants to share his side of the story—and what a story it is. The crimes are, of course, major points of interest. Cianci argues that the several acquittals that accompanied his racketeering conviction prove that he was largely guilty by association, certainly not worthy of what he calls his “five-year free vacation in a gated community.” As for the assault, while the author admits that it wasn't his finest day, he also cries hyperbole. Rather than hitting his estranged wife's lover with a fireplace log, he merely threatened him, and the ashtray that he threw “in his direction” was not intended to hit him. In between bouts of authorial self-defense, Cianci tells the fascinating story of his rise to power and the profound transformation that Providence underwent under his command. When he started his career prosecuting some of the country's most notorious mobsters, Providence was struggling, to put it kindly, and some of his successes over 21 years in office are indisputable. He attracted New England's biggest mall, reduced crime, spearheaded public-arts initiatives and even moved the Providence River, creating an attractive and usable downtown. What was once considered an almost uninhabitable city became known in the late ’90s and early ’00s as a Renaissance City, labeled by several magazines as one of the best places to live in America. Getting the inside scoop on this miraculous urban revival is almost as intriguing as the gory details of his fall from grace. As colorful on the page as he is in person, Cianci is a natural storyteller with a lot to say. For politics junkies, this is a great guilty pleasure—pun intended.

 

Pub Date: March 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-59280-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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