Thursday, March 11, 2010


The Last Hurrah,  Edwin O'Connor, Little Brown and Company, 1956, 427 pp

At #2 on the bestseller list for 1956 is the story of an Irish politician who has held office in his city (presumably Boston) as mayor, his state as governor and after 50 years, is running one more time for mayor. He is in his 70s, the time period is post WWII, and as the title suggests, it is his last go around.
According to the cover flap the reader can expect to "discover a great deal about Irish life and politics in America." That may have been true in 1956 when not many novels had covered this subject. It is certainly old news in 2010 and for me the book was of some historical interest but not much else.

The writing is fairly dull and overly wordy. The plotting is obvious; not only does he give it away in the title but by halfway through the story, the breakdown of the politician's health has been foreshadowed enough times that it comes as no surprise.

It was clear that the author wrote a novel to propound his analysis of how ward politics came to an end in Boston. But it was a bestseller at the time and is still a well known novel amongst those who write about Boston, the Irish and politics. The book did increase my interest in reading Dennis Lehane's latest novel, The Given Day.

(The Last Hurrah is out of print. I found it at my local library. Otherwise you would have to go to a used bookstore or search on line.)

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