Books: An Ultimate Insider

Joe Califano served under three Presidents, knows lots of secrets, and helped the U.S. try to kill Castro

Joseph Califano Jr. came barreling out of Brooklyn, N.Y., the son of a conservative Irish-American mother and a white-shirted Italian-American father who worked for IBM. He went to Catholic schools, to Harvard Law, to the Navy and then to a white-shoe Wall Street law firm.

Ambition and moral zeal were his propellants, and Califano never slowed down. His memoir, Inside: A Public and Private Life (Public Affairs; 539 pages), is as jam-packed and energetic as his life so far.

He was taken with John F. Kennedy's candidacy in 1960, mostly because the Senator was Catholic and anticommunist, like Califano's parents. He...

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