American Cicero: Mario Cuomo and the Defense of American Liberalism, Saladin Ambar, Rutgers University

Saladin Ambar’s American Cicero (Oxford University Press, 2017) traces Mario Cuomo’s rise through the rough-and-tumble world of New York City politics to become its liberal champion. A central question threads throughout the narrative: Was he a symbol of liberalism’s long decline in twentieth-century American politics or a prophet in the wilderness, heralding the rise of a new progressivism? Ambar argues that Cuomo kept the embers of liberalism alive in an era of conservative dominance. Yet his decision not to run for president arguably hastened the end of his political career. Cuomo’s impassioned advocacy for liberalism nevertheless had a measurable impact on twenty-first-century Democratic progressives, notable among them Barack Obama.

Calandra Italian American Institute