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The Last Hurrah Hardcover – January 1, 1956


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 427 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (1956)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000K1Z7X4
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.7 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,960,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I have read this book over and over and it never disappoints.
William Benson
The book is a great insider's view of the way big-city politics once was, filled with stories, humor, and an affection for most of the characters in it.
Fat Bob The Lawyer
O'Connor's work truly makes me yearn for the past - when, although far from perfect, politicians had something they will NEVER have again: charisma.
"dcdre"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on November 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
I find it hard to be impartial about this book, which is one of my favorites, and is the basis for the great John Ford/Spencer Tracy film of the same name. The main criticism of the novel appears to be that O'Connor was too benevolent in his portrayal of a big city political boss and of machine politics generally. But I think that this complaint really misses the central insight of the story. Whatever Frank Skeffington's faults may be--and it is at least implied that he is financially corrupt and is readily apparent that he has become morally corrupt in the pursuit of power--he is also undeniably an interesting and compelling personality. As the Monsignor says at his funeral :
The bigger the man is in public life, the bigger the praise or the blame--and we have to remember that Frank Skeffington was quite a big man.
What Edwin O'Connor discerned was that the modern, clean-cut, college-educated, television-age, politicians would be equally corrupt, but would be little men. Like news anchormen, they would look well-polished and nicely groomed, but they would be empty suits. Marketed like household products, they would be chosen specifically because they were so colorless, so unlikely to put off the voter/consumer. And so we are left with the worst of both worlds : the politicians are still power hungry crooks, but now they have no entertainment value to redeem them.
Skeffington's ultimate legacy is bookended between two other sentiments expressed after his death. Nathaniel Gardiner, the old line WASP who sparred with but respected the Mayor, thinks to himself : "If only he had not been such a rogue..." but then realizes that had he been less a rogue, he would have been less of a figure.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By B. Griffin on August 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
There was a day when politics was about quick witted men speaking directly to the constituency. This is a book about the end of those days in Boston. Skeffington, the mayor of Boston (a thinly veiled James Michael Curley) is running for one last term as mayor. This is the tale of that race and of Skeffington's life in politics.
What makes this book particularly precious is the, still accurate, portrayal of the hatred between the Irish and the Old Yankees in Boston. Skeffington, an Irishman, has adroitly played the political game for years. This book tells of how the Irish came to power in Boston. More important it tells how at the end, politics became less about speaking clearly and shaking hands firmly and more about money and television.
To me, Skeffington is the king of the political characters. He has humor and sensitivity. Would that there were anyone left with the entertaining humor he brought to the world of politics.
A most entertaining read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Smallridge on December 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
O'Connor is one of America's most under-appreciated writers. In "The Last Hurrah," O'Connor captures how and why political machines are so much a part of American history. He does this in almost a Shakespearean fashion by illuminating a mayor who has stayed past his prime; a reader feels sympathy for the mayor while also recognizing that his time has come. The action unfolds against the backdrop of an urban center at the middle of the 20th Century. This is a fine achievement.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
The summary expalins the basics: a main character in the truest sense of the word character, a great story of the ending of an era, etc. The biggest endorsement, and the most telling thing I can say is to explain how my brother and I aquired the book. My father, who was known to his college buddies as a samrt guy, but certainly not an intellectual, gave the book to one of his friends to read in 1961. The guy not only read it and loved it, but he saved it--for over thirty years. Then one Christmas he was joining our family for dinner and he gave it to my brother and told us the story of the first assigned book he ever knew my father to read cover to cover. We fought over who got to take it back to college first, and now we continue to pass it back and forth to re-read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
The Last Hurrah is a remarkably intriguing look into the machine of urban Boss Politics. With a narrative style that never fails to hold the reader's interest, O'Connor leads you through the streets and alleys of the old city, allowing you a brief but eye-opening glance at old-time city politics. In addition, O'Connor also evokes the moving atmosphere of "a dying era." The book's characters are witnessing a historical transition, and the nostalgia of the old politicians and their constituents seems to become your own as, progressing, you hope more and more that it can somehow hold on. Hitting the last page, you find yourself feeling somber, looking back through this remarkable window to days long gone by...
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "dcdre" on February 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
Edwin O'Connor's masterpiece on the demise of the complex and facinating world of old-school Boston politics is simply my favorite book. O'Connor painted a more vivid, compelling picture of this peculiar phenomenon through fiction than any political biography or history could ever hope to.
Skeffington is one of the most interesting, amicable characters I have ever encountered in any book of any genre. Quick-witted, funny, and heroic, he is the epitome of the old-fashioned politician. O'Connor's work truly makes me yearn for the past - when, although far from perfect, politicians had something they will NEVER have again: charisma.
O'Connor's foreshadowing of what local (as well as state and national) politics would become has proven amazingly correct - know-it-all, made-for-TV blank slates that are as charismatic as the processed, artificial backgrounds they are manufactured from.
A great work of fiction, biography, history, and the American experience. A masterpiece.
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