Before his death in 1958, James Michael Curley brought fire and fury to Massachusetts politics for more than 50 years. He was portrayed as the corrupt, flamboyant mayor in Edwin O'Connor's 1956 novel The Last Hurrah.

Curley grew up shanty-Irish poor and with a hatred of the Yankee establishment. The Brahmins groaned at his political record (elected four times as mayor of Boston, four times as a Congressman, once as Governor of Massachusetts) and at his jail record (two months behind bars in 1904 for taking a civil service examination for an illiterate friend, and five months for mail fraud in...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!