cover image House on Fire: Fighting for Democracy in the Age of Political Arson

House on Fire: Fighting for Democracy in the Age of Political Arson

David Cicilline. Twelve, $29 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5387-2259-6

Rhode Island congressman Cicilline debuts with a fiery if somewhat self-aggrandizing account of his efforts to fight “corruption and self-dealing” in government. A former mayor of Providence, R.I., Cicilline forcefully critiques his predecessor, Vincent “Buddy” Cianci (“the municipal version of a petty dictator”), who served from 1975 to 1984 and then again from 1991 to 2002 and was forced out of office on both occasions by felony convictions. Cicilline draws on his experience as a criminal defense attorney in 1980s Providence to share colorful if disturbing stories of mob violence, police misconduct, and political favoritism, and details how he reformed corrupt practices when he was elected mayor. (In one amusing anecdote, a local restaurateur is shocked to learn that a liquor license cost just a couple hundred dollars, not the $35,000 he had previously paid.) This background, Cicilline argues, prepared him to serve as comanager of Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial. Cicilline offers informative, behind-the-scenes details about disagreements within the Democratic Party over how best to fight Trump, but veers into campaign mode when detailing his work on antitrust legislation and President Biden’s infrastructure bill. This political memoir loses steam the further the author’s career advances. (Aug.)