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Lawrence Spinelli

Historian, political scientist

During a distinguished career that spanned more than four decades, Dr. Lawrence Spinelli held a variety of senior-level positions in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. His first job on Capitol Hill was as press secretary to Peter W. Rodino Jr., and he spent five years as director of communications for then-Senator Joe Biden.

Spinelli’s longest tenure in government was at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, where he served as the Director of Outreach and Public Affairs. He retired in 2017. Spinelli is author of Dry Diplomacy: The United States, Great Britain, and Prohibition. The first study of the diplomatic impact of Prohibition, Dry Diplomacy was praised by the Journal of American History for being “engagingly written and comprehensively researched.”

Spinelli was an assistant professor of political science at Drew University and a professorial lecturer at American University. He received his undergraduate degree from Drew, a master’s degree in government from Georgetown University, and a master’s degree and doctorate degree in history from New York University.

Publication Date:August 6, 2024

Watergate’s Unexpected Hero

The Life of Peter W. Rodino Jr.

In our divided political climate, finding a deliberative leader who takes seriously the legislative commitment to bipartisanship is difficult. 

With the United States dealing with one of its worst crises fifty years ago, an unassuming congressman from New Jersey stepped up as chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Under his leadership, the committee developed the gold standard for presidential impeachment in holding President Richard M. Nixon accountable for his crimes.

Watergate’s Unexpected Hero: The Life of Peter W. Rodino Jr. tells the story of a legislator whom Washington commentators assumed would cower under national scrutiny. Instead, his calm, assured demeanor during the televised proceedings served to fortify an uncertain nation.

Rodino continued to be a respected figure on Capitol Hill, praised for his intrepid work under pressure until he retired more than a decade later. Author Lawrence Spinelli, who served as Rodino’s press secretary, tells a much-needed biography that includes much more than Watergate. The result is a thoroughly researched, fair account of his mentor’s legacy.

On the golden anniversary of Nixon’s resignation, Spinelli brings new insights into much-covered territory. Using primary sources and Rodino’s personal recollections, Spinelli illuminates an extraordinary life that began in the gritty streets of Newark’s Little Italy and grew to a distinguished public career that carved a path from the New Deal to the presidency of Ronald Reagan. 

Rodino’s journey included worked with influential political leaders to cover a wide range of public policy issues that are still relevant today, including race relations, immigration, voting rights, and economic equality.

Business, Politics
Politics Only
Motivational Speaking
General Stuff
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