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The climax of this humane account of 10 years in Boston that began with news of Martin Luther King’s assassination, is a watershed moment in the city’s modern history—the 1974 racist riots that followed the court-ordered busing of kids to integrate the schools. To bring understanding to that moment, Lukas, a former New York Times journalist, focuses on two working-class families, headed by an Irish-American widow and an African-American mother, and on the middle-class family of a white liberal couple. Lukas goes beyond stereotypes, carefully grounding each…
Big Trouble begins on a snowy evening at Christmas time 1905 in the little town of Caldwell, Idaho, to which the state’s former governor, Frank Steunenberg, had returned to head his family bank while contemplating his political future. As he walked home that night, he sensed all about him the bold, exuberant, unashamedly acquisitive spirit of Caldwell’s young entrepreneurs, who—as his brother had written—were “here for the money.” Like so many in the West at that time, these brothers believed their prospects for enriching themselves were limitless, that the future opened wide before them.
And yet the governor suffered premonitions that he and his neighbors weren’t fully in control of their own destiny, that something malign threatened their well-being.
Now, as he followed the plume of his frozen breath, his boots crunching eight inches of freshly frozen snow, he turned through his garden gate and a bomb attached to the gatepost blew him “into eternity.”