“The life and adventures of Tommy the Cork, from serving as a clerk to Oliver Wendell Holmes to helping United Fruit find ways to overthrow the government of Guatamala, make for one of the most intriguing Washington books in years. Readers with a taste for the politically picaresque will seize upon it with delight.” — Harry McPherson in Wilson Quarterly
IN 1931, A YOUNG Rhode Island lawyer with middle-class, Irish Catholic roots came to Washington to clerk for Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. He had earned the highest grades ever attained at Harvard Law School and possessed a force of personality to match his intellect. A brilliant lawyer, wily political operator, and likable rogue, Corcoran would become the most important and valued strategist in FDR’s inner circle. After leaving government, Corcoran would virtually establish modern lobbying and influence peddling as we know it.
Corcoran was the first “super-lobbyist,” the first person to fully appreciate how World War II changed Washington; the first person to fully understand the symbiotic relationship between the executive branch, the Congress, and corporate America. Corcoran knew how to size people up, apply leverage, and call in — to devastating effect — the favors he liberally spread around town. Despite his lasting influence his story is little known today.
Drawing on sources ranging from FBI wiretaps to interviews with family members, Tommy the Cork traces Corcoran’s career from his early days with Holmes and FDR to his behind-the-scenes orchestration of President Eisenhower’s intervention in Guatemala. Corcoran’s life is peppered with political luminaries, including Henry Luce, Joseph P. Kennedy, Evita Peron, and Lyndon Johnson. McKean’s account also tells the story of Corcoran’s twenty-year romantic relationship with the exotic power broker Anna Chan Chennault, a champion of conservative Republican causes. Anyone interested in the history of Washington’s inner-workings and tales of political intrigue will find this story irresistible.show more