Shining through the pages of this enjoyable political memoir is one clear fact: Tip O’Neill was eminently suited to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, a position from which he has only recently retired. The nation is fortunate indeed that O’Neill reached this position, as his contributions to political life in the United States have been substantial and far-reaching. O’Neill has displayed throughout his career a keen sense for politics, a warm, gregarious (and persuasive) personality, and a deep sense of compassion, honor, and fair play. Although one may not always agree with his stands on all issues, one can see how his commitment to the liberal cause has benefited the nation.
O’Neill lovingly depicts his youth in Boston growing up as the son of a city politician he obviously revered. O’Neill has been involved in politics since his adolescence; he never really worked at anything other than being a politician. Starting his career in the Massachusetts state legislature, he became that state’s Democratic Speaker of the House after a long period of Republican control. After a period of service in Massachusetts, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives and began his climb toward leadership of the Democratic party and the position of Speaker.
The book focuses on the different political personalities O’Neill knew through the years, from James Michael Curley, the notorious Boston mayor, to John McCormack, former Speaker of the House, to every president from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan. Separate chapters are included on the Kennedys, Lyndon B. Johnson, Watergate, Jimmy Carter, and Reagan; O’Neill’s anecdotal accounts give candid views on Democrats and Republicans alike, and this book is essential reading for anyone interested in American politics.