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. 150,000 first printing; first serial to the Los Angeles Times Syndicate; BOMC selection; author tour. (September 10
It's no accident that the first chapter in this anecdotal memoir is titled ``All Politics Is Local.'' O'Neill, recently retired Speaker of the House, learned politics growing up in Irish-Catholic Boston, and these roots pervade his 50-year political career. He relates his experiences by stringing together apocryphal stories and true incidentsembellished, no doubt, by collaborator Novak. Of particular interest are his assessments of presidents from FDR on. O'Neill is not reticent about criticizing Democratic leaders as well as Republicans. Though short on political analysis, these entertaining recollections highlight a dedicated politician whose contributions go far beyond ``local politics.'' Jack Forman, Mesa Coll . Lib., San Diego, Cal.