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LEARNING TO GOVERN: MY LIFE IN NEW YORK POLITICS, FROM HELL GATE TO CITY HALL
by Peter F. Vallone
Publisher: Richard Altschuler & Associates, Inc 2005
Category: Non-fiction20th centuryPolitics
Avg Rating: (0 reviews)
From his vantage point deep in the Democratic Party machinery and as the longtime Speaker of the City Council of New York City, Vallone delivers a detailed view of the complex workings of Big Apple politics from the 1970s through 2001. A deft mix of the political and the personal, Vallone's narrative depicts former mayors Dinkins, Koch and Giuliani with generosity and characteristic grace, but Vallone might have been too reticent in this telling; as if aware of political fallout, Vallone concedes the good points of everyone, making this not the political dish that readers might seek from a man who has seen so much. And if he is too cute in his depictions of others, he is positively coy about himself. When describing the Democratic primary battle between Koch and Cuomo, Vallone writes, "today I cannot be sure which lever I did pull in the voting booth." This, from an author who plucks minute political references from a diary he's kept for decades, is typical of a too-bald desire to look good in print. Vallone takes great pains to show that a career politician can be an optimistic, deeply moral man governed by duty to the citizenry. His kindness and unwillingness to make harsh judgments of others may have made his book less entertaining or revelatory, but they almost certainly were the reasons that he had such a long career.

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