The Rascal King

The Life And Times Of James Michael Curley (1874-1958)


By Jack Beatty

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“A truly brilliant biography.”–John Kenneth Galbraith, Chicago Tribune

Twice jailed while serving in office yet a champion of the people, builder of schools yet a shameless grafter, James Michael Curley was the stuff of legend long before his life became fiction in Edwin O’Connor’s classic novel The Last Hurrah. As mayor of Boston, as a United States congressman, as governor of Massachusetts, Curley rose from the slums of South Boston in a career extending from the Progressive Era of Teddy Roosevelt to the ascendancy of the Kennedy sons. While Curley lived, he represented both the triumph of Irish Americans and the birth of divisive politics of ethnic and racial polarization; when he died, over one million mourners turned out to pay their respects in the largest wake Boston had ever seen.

Nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography, Beatty’s spellbinding story of “the Kingfish of Massachusetts” is also an epic of his city, its immigrant people, and its turbulent times. It is simply biography at its best.

“Beatty’s book is a delight–rich, witty, flowing, and full of insight about the nature of political corruption.”–Constance Casey, Los Angeles Times

“A panoramic, exquisitely incisive biography that illuminates the triumphs, debacles, and personal sorrows of the irrepressible man known as Boston’s ‘Mayor of the Poor.'”–Robert Wilson, USA Today


On Sale
Aug 24, 2000
Page Count
620 pages
Da Capo Press

Jack Beatty

About the Author

Jack Beatty is a Senior Editor of the Atlantic Monthly and a News Analyst on the public radio program On Point from WBUR- Boston. He is the author of The Rascal King: The Life and Times of James Michael Curley, 1874-1958. His 2001 anthology, Colossus: How the Corporation Changed America, was named one of the ten best business books of the year by BusinessWeek. Mr. Beatty is married, with one son. He lives in New Hampshire.

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