Garrison Nelson

John William McCormack

A Political Biography

Bloomsbury Academic 2017

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in BiographyNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network March 16, 2017 Mark Klobas

John William McCormack served as Speaker of the House of Representatives throughout most of the 1960s, during which time he shepherded the legislation of...

John William McCormack served as Speaker of the House of Representatives throughout most of the 1960s, during which time he shepherded the legislation of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society program through the chamber. As Garrison Nelson demonstrates in John William McCormack: A Political Biography (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017), this was the culmination of a long political career that stretched back over a half-century to the impoverished South Boston neighborhood where McCormack was raised. There, in an environment where ethnic and class identities defined ones political prospects, McCormack covered up his father’s Scots Canadian heritage to establish his Irish Catholic bona fides. First elected to the House of Representatives in 1928, he was well positioned to benefit from the dramatic transformation in the fortunes of the Democratic Party during the Great Depression, becoming the House Majority Leader. As Nelson demonstrates, it was McCormack’s personal relationships which shaped his career, most notably those with Sam Rayburn, the legendary Speaker alongside whom McCormack would serve in the House leadership for over two decades, and John F. Kennedy, the scion of two Boston political families and a man who often found himself at odds with the longtime Congressman.

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