The City Below

The City Below

by James Carroll
     
 

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In this compelling family saga set during a tumultuous era in Boston history, 1960-1984, James Carroll chronicles the lives of two brothers, Nick and Terry Doyle, as they strive to move beyond the strictures of their working-class Charlestown neighborhood to" the city below." Though one brother is drawn to the worlds of politics and real estate and the other to the

Overview

In this compelling family saga set during a tumultuous era in Boston history, 1960-1984, James Carroll chronicles the lives of two brothers, Nick and Terry Doyle, as they strive to move beyond the strictures of their working-class Charlestown neighborhood to" the city below." Though one brother is drawn to the worlds of politics and real estate and the other to the underworld of organized crime, their fates remain inextricably linked as each struggles to break free of the blood tie holding him captive to the past. As in his previous best-selling novels Mortal Friends and Family Trade, James Carroll seamlessly blends fiction and history to create a gripping tale of family bonds and ethnic violence, vows and betrayals, and political intrigue in the inner sanctums of both church and state.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"a rich, seductive meld of characters real and fictive, of history and fancy" The New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From the author of Mortal Friends comes a pithy, absorbing and piquantly topical tale again set in a vividly evoked Boston--and again probably bestseller material. Here Carroll writes of a bond between two Irish brothers that is battered by gusts of furious love, guilt, betrayal and jealousy. In 1960, Terry Doyle, a sober older son marked for the priesthood, chooses instead to follow his black friend Bright in campaigning for the Kennedys; he later becomes a successful, though self-loathing, businessman. In his arduous ascent, he leaves behind Charlestown, a fractious working-class enclave that boils with racial hatred during Boston's busing crisis, and his younger brother Nick, a sweet-talking crook who hitches his star to the Mafia. Carroll's superbly detailed vision of Boston is at once elegiac and hard-edged: the tight-knit embrace of Charlestown turns to ugliness as a mob spits on black schoolchildren and rages at Ted Kennedy, their last and most tarnished prince. Occasionally predictable plot turns--twice fueled by the cliche that Catholic guilt insists on destruction as payment for pleasure--mar an otherwise excellent chronicle of three decades during which starry-eyed idealism was brought low by political cynicism and personal greed. Author tour. (May)
"a rich, seductive meld of characters real and fictive, of history and fancy"
Library Journal
In this sequel to Mortal Friends (LJ 4/15/ 78), we again meet the Doyle brothers, who are no longer inseparable. Coming of age in the turbulent 1960s, Nick has turned to organized crime, while Terry has left the seminary for the promised Camelot of the Kennedys. Boston is a maelstrom of religion, politics, bigotry, and racism. Indeed, the city itself is the central character in this Cain-and-Abel saga. Terry returns home often as a Kennedy campaign worker and later as an aide to Senator Teddy, and with each return he clashes with the dark underbelly of Boston and with Nick. From the busing conflicts and church reforms of the 1960s through the longstanding turf wars between the Irish and Italians to the real estate boom of the 1980s, Terry's idealism is sharply at odds with Nick's calculated opportunism. This intense and powerful novel skillfully weaves together history and fiction against the backdrop of one of our country's most famous and beautiful cities. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/93.]-Susan Clifford, Hughes Aircraft Co. Lib., Los Angeles

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395825228
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
11/11/1996
Edition description:
None
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

Frederick Busch
"In 'The City Below', as in his earlier novels, James Carroll works the American counterparts to the precincts of Graham Greene. His characters engage with sexual, religious, and ethical dilemmas we pray not to face, in a Boston no other writer portrays with such scruple or power."

Meet the Author

James Carroll was raised in Washington, D.C., and ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1969. He served as a chaplain at Boston University from 1969 to 1974, then left the priesthood to become a writer. A distinguished scholar-
in-residence at Suffolk University, he is a columnist for the Boston Globe and a
regular contributor to the Daily Beast.

His critically admired books include Practicing Catholic, the National Book Award–winning An American Requiem, House of War, which won the first PEN/Galbraith Award, and the New York Times bestseller Constantine’s Sword, now an acclaimed documentary.

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