Blurb: Canny folk hero O'Neill alludes here to another such, the legendary mayor of Boston: ``When the good Lord made James Michael Curley, He broke the mold''; and if you substitute his own name, you have the flavor of this knowing, pietistic, jolly, seductive memoir, written with Novak, coauthor of Iacocca. In the all-but-vanished tradition of ward healer, the retired Speaker of the House, writing in the first person, blends treacle (``I would work to make sure my own people could go to places like Harvard'') and shrewdness (``power accumulates when people think you have power''), idealism and pragmatism, humor and heft as he relates anecdotes about the national figures he has dealt with in Washington, D.C., and politicians in Massachusetts where he spent eight terms in the legislature before joining Congress in 1952. Like ``a good Irish pol who can carry on six conversations at once,'' O'Neill talks about baseball, poker and his boyhood gang, issues of governance and the functioning of Congress, in which he served for 34 years. ``All politics is local,'' he writes, and this memoir makes that a truism, bringing national imperatives back home to the national constituency.
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