Book Reviews,  Politics

Marie: A True Story | Book Review

Marie: A True Story | Book Review Marie: A True Story by Peter Maas
Original Publication Date: 1983
Genres: Crime, History, Non-Fiction
Source: I purchased this book

Recounts the true experiences of Marie Ragghianti–former beauty queen, devout Catholic, and divorced working mother–and her courageous fight, in the face of disgrace and peril, against deep-seated political corruption in Tennessee.

Marie: A True Story is about Marie Ragghianti, the woman who blew the whistle on the corrupt Tennessee government in the 1970s.

Peter Maas was famous for his book on Frank Serpico, a whistleblower in the New York City Police Department. He also wrote other fine books about crime. But my favorite is Marie: A True Story.

Ragghianti Becomes Chairman of the Board of Pardons and Paroles

Ragghianti was a former beauty queen and abused wife when she entered Tennessee politics as an extradition officer.

Eventually, she became the chairman of the Tennessee Board of Pardons and Paroles and discovered that criminals were paying politicians for paroles and pardons! If you could pay the price, you would be set free. It didn’t matter if you were a rapist or murderer — the money was what counted.

Ragghianti finally contacted the F.B.I. and showed great courage in fighting against the corruption that she found. Several people were murdered during the course of the investigation, and Marie’s life was in jeopardy.

The governor of Tennessee fired Marie, after setting her up by having her arrested for drunk driving. But Marie fought back and sued to get her job back.

Did she get her job back? Read the book to find out!

Final Analysis

Peter Maas makes you really understand why Ragghianti was so persistent in fighting corruption and why she just couldn’t look the other way.

It makes for gripping reading.

When the book came out,  The Washington Post had an interesting review:

Going After the Good Old Boys

Ragghianti was eventually appointed a member of the U.S. Parole Commission National Appeals Board and became a Vice-Chair. She served from 1999 to 2000.

The story of Marie Ragghianti was eventually made into a film starring Sissy Spacek. It is a fine film, although it does fudge the timeline a little bit.

Similar Books

If you want to read more books about political corruption in the Watergate era, I reviewed All the President’s Men and How the Good Guys Finally Won: Notes From An Impeachment Summer.

Thank you for reading The Literary Lioness!

About Peter Maas

Peter Maas was an American crime journalist and biographer. He was the biographer of Frank Serpico, a New York City Police officer who testified against police corruption. He is also the author of the number one New York Times bestseller, Underboss, about the life and times of Sammy “The Bull” Gravano.

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