WHILE THE MUSIC LASTS: My Life in Politics by William M. Bulger

WHILE THE MUSIC LASTS: My Life in Politics

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From the leader of the Massachusetts Senate, a colorful, anecdote-filled memoir of a political life. Bulger, a voluble and very Irish-American product of the tight-knit working-class enclave of South Boston (where he still lives), was born in 1934 and, like most in his neighborhood, grew up fascinated with politics. Bulger was trained as an attorney and carried on his legal practice concurrently with his service in public office. But the practice of law was subordinate to the practice of politics; he entered the statehouse in 1961 before he had even finished law school. In many ways a traditional Democratic Boston poi (he reveals himself as an admirer of James Michael Curley, the legendary silver-tongued leader of the Boston political machine), Bulger used politics as a way of advancing the interests of ordinary people; anecdotes about them fill his pages. The author helped the people of his district in matters great and small, from work on anti--child abuse bills to opposition to the forced busing plans that divided Boston in the early '70s (though, as Bulger makes clear, he supported desegregation and opposed violence). Bulger tells tales of national figures, too--Ted Kennedy, whom he opposed in an election because Kennedy's adversary was Bulger's neighbor; Alan Dershowitz, who opposed an appointment of Bulger's clerk to the Massachusetts bench; William Weld, the Republican governor, who, improbably, became Bulger's friendly foe. Bulger vents peeves against political adversaries, but his biggest bugaboo is the press, which he plainly regards as an often irresponsible vehicle of corporate interests. In all, Bulger achieves the virtue of eloquence while seeming totally sincere, without being a blowhard, and without ever losing command of his facts. Of little specific concern to anyone uninterested in Massachusetts politics, Bulger's account is nonetheless an engaging, frequently funny look at politics at its most local.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1996
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin