'Scoundrels' focuses on darker side of state's political past

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Historian Paul F. Caranci and Cranston author Thomas Blacke have collaborated on a new book exploring the darker side of the state’s political past.

“Scoundrels: Defining Corruption Through Tales of Political Intrigue in Rhode Island” takes a unique look at political corruption, not from the point of view of whether a prosecutable crime has been committed, but based on the corrosive nature of the misdoings.

“It has been said that political corruption is as old as government itself,” Caranci said. “Yet despite its timeless nature and its devastating impact on society, political corruption remains an elusive term that is difficult to define.”

Noting that it is impossible to fully grasp the impact of political corruption on government and society as a whole without first having a cursory understanding of what corruption is and how it is measured, the authors have developed three classifications of political corruption – traditional, circumstantial, and situational – and have devoted a section of the book to each of the three classifications. Each category has both an active and a passive component, according to the authors.

Using several infamous instances of corruption in Rhode Island politics as its framework, “Scoundrels” attempts to define what has not always been easily recognized.

“Up until now, various integrity studies that are used to determine the annual list of the nation’s most corrupt states use some variation of indictments and/or convictions as a percentage of population,” the authors said. “These ratio-based formulas, however, ignore the fact that not all corruption is illegal and therefore, not all corruption is prosecutable.”

“Scoundrels” includes chapters such as “Cash in the Dumpster: Rhode Island Governor Edward DiPrete,” and “McMansions: The Johnston Zoning Board of Review.”

Caranci is a historian and serves on the board of directors for the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. He is a co-founder of and consultant to The Municipal Heritage Group and the author of five published books including two produced by The History Press. His book, “The Hanging and Redemption of John Gordon: The True Story of Rhode Island’s Last Execution,” was selected by the Providence Journal as one of the top five non-fiction books of 2013.

Caranci served for eight years as Rhode Island’s deputy secretary of state and for almost 17 years as a councilman in his hometown of North Providence.

Blacke, originally from Johnston, now residing in Cranston, has written six other books prior to his collaboration with Caranci on “Scoundrels.” He has devoted his life to marketing, media, and public relations, and currently runs his own marketing, public relations, and security-consulting firm. He has worked on many high-level political campaigns, served as a lobbyist, and has held leadership positions in the local Democratic Party. He is also the co-creator of a television reality show and the editor/publisher of an international magazine.

“Scoundrels: Defining Corruption Through Tales of Political Intrigue in Rhode Island” is published by Stillwater River Publications and may be purchased in bookstores, on Amazon.com, and by calling 401-639-4502. Email inquiries may be directed to municipalheritage@gmail.com.

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