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.