“I read it in one mid-night sitting. It has the button-holing compulsion of a man met in a dark alley. I can’t wait to see the film.” —Hugh Leonard
In 1846 the Crokers, a Presbyterian landlord family, flee famine-stricken West Cork aboard the Henry Clay, survive shipwreck and land in New York. There they are confronted with the grim realities of the teeming city – poverty, prostitution, and street gangs. In this world their youngest son, Richard Eyre ‘Boss’ Croker (1841-1922) thrives. Through sheer ambition, the barely literate Croker – engineer, prize-fighter, fixer, union organizer -battles his way from the backstreets to seize control of Tammany Hall, the very seat of power in New York.
Charming but corrupt, Croker manipulates all who fall within his sphere, becoming one of the city’s most influential citizens in the late nineteenth century. Boss Croker also captures the drama of his later years – his move to Dublin, where he rebuilds Glencairn in Sandyford; how in 1907, his horse Orby becomes the first Irish horse to win the Epsom Derby; and his support for rebellion in Ireland through his contacts with Clan na Gael and Michael Collins. After the death of his first wife, heiress Elizabeth Frazer, he defies the disapproval of his children by marrying Bula Edmondson, a beautiful young Cherokee Indian. He is finally carried to his grave in 1922 by Oliver Gogarty and Arthur Griffith.
Boss Croker is a gripping novel that unleashes all the extravagant energy of its subject. Telling Croker’s story in full for the first time – and brings New York and Irish America into vivid focus through the prism of one extraordinary, flamboyant, life.