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John McCormack’s biography to be presented at Lynn Museum on Thursday

LYNN — Robert F. Kennedy was a U.S. senator for less than four years before he was assassinated in 1968. But there are dozens of books written about him.

John McCormack, a Massachusetts Democrat, served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 42 years and was speaker of the House from 1961 to 1971 when he championed landmark civil rights, education, and healthcare legislation.

Yet, not a single biography has been written about him.

Until now.

Garrison Nelson, 75, a Lynn native and 1959 Classical High School graduate, has written “John William McCormack: A Political Biography.”

The professor of law, politics, and political behavior at the University of Vermont will present “Friendly Enemies: The Kennedys, the McCormacks, and National Politics” at the Lynn Museum tonight at 6. The event is free.

“There have been a dozen speakers of the house between Sam Rayburn in 1940 and Paul Ryan today,” Nelson said. “Of those, 11 have books by or about them. McCormack was the only one not to have a book by or about him. Now there is one.”

On what McCormack would have thought of President Donald Trump, that’s easy, he said.

“He would be horrified,” he said. “McCormack was one of the authors of Social Security, pushed Medicaid, and fought for immigration reform. He was pro immigration, pro healthcare and pro help for the aged.”

In its review, The Boston Globe praised Nelson’s 900-page biography.

“Nelson’s book is as much a history of Bay State and congressional politics as it is a biography of McCormack, and taking on this book, which took its author 20 years to prepare and will take a reader a month or more to read, is a formidable, daunting commitment,” Globe correspondent David M. Shribman said in his review. “I have covered politics for the better part of 40 years, and I cannot recall McCormack’s name being mentioned even once since Richard Nixon was president. The best that can be said for him … is McCormack was in the room when so many decisions and events of consequence occurred.”

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