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The Doctor Broad: A Mafia Love Story Book Talk & Signing

Monday, December 16th at 6:00 PM

The Doctor Broad: A Mafia Love Story

There are people in the know who say that Barbara Roberts caused the downfall of the New England Mafia. She did this, not by killing someone, or sending someone to jail, but by keeping someone alive, and out of prison, for about a year too long.

This is the true story of a devout Catholic schoolgirl who grows up to be a physician, an atheist, feminist, anti-war activist – as well as a Mob doctor and Mob mistress. The man she keeps alive and out of prison is Raymond L. S. Patriarca, the long-time head of the New England Mafia.

Now in his early seventies, Patriarca is in poor health, although he tries to hide this. A long-time diabetic, he has known heart disease and has recently undergone a toe amputation when he is arrested on capital charges relating to an old murder, and taken to the Rhode Island State Police Barracks in Scituate. Barbara Roberts takes him on as a patient that night, and her world is forever changed.

Her testimony in various courts that he is too sick to stand trial earns her the enmity of police, FBI agents, the Providence Journal newspaper, and some of her fellow physicians. But the care of Raymond is not the only stressor in her life. The father of her youngest child is suing her in Family Court for common law divorce, palimony, and custody of their young daughter on the grounds that she is an unfit mother. Her oldest daughter suffers a nervous breakdown. She is fighting a trumped-up felony charge of breaking and entering. And less than a year after becoming Raymond’s physician and protector, she begins a clandestine affair with the alleged #3 man in the New England Mafia, Louis “Baby Shanks” Manocchio. Two years later he is convicted of accessory and conspiracy to murder and sentenced to two consecutive life years in prison, plus ten years.

This is not just a Mafia story. This memoir traces Barbara Roberts’ life story from a now vanished world almost to the present. Her commitment to feminism and medicine leads her into unexpected byways. She travels a path she never foresaw into moral dilemmas she never envisioned. It is the story of a woman born into one world who comes of age in another; who expects to live one life but finds herself ad-libbing something very different; who faces challenges undreamt of by her mother, while providing a new paradigm for her daughters.


About the Author:

Barbara Roberts, MD was the first woman to practice adult cardiology in the state of Rhode Island. She graduated from Barnard College and Case Western Reserve School of Medicine where she did her medical internship. As a resident at Yale New Haven Hospital, she became active in the pro-choice movement, before Roe v Wade made abortion legal. She helped found the Women’s National Abortion Action Coalition (WONAAC) and was the keynote speaker at the first national pro-choice demonstration in Washington DC in November 1971. She also was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement, and spoke at the last mass anti-war demonstration on the grounds of the Washington Monument on the day of Richard Nixon’s inauguration in 1973. She spent two years doing medical research at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, then completed a cardiology fellowship at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, at teaching hospital of Harvard University.
She was a staff physician at Planned Parenthood for many years, and continues on the voluntary faculty at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University where she is an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine. She founded and directed the Women’s Cardiac Center at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, RI from 2002 to 2016. During those years she lectured in the United States and in many foreign countries on heart health and gender-specific aspects of heart disease. She is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Physicians.
She is the recipient of many awards including the Rhode Island NAACP Ida Wells Barnett Award and the Rhode Island Urban League Recognition of Excellence Award. She was named a Top Doctor for Women three times by RI Monthly Magazine and was chosen by Ms. Magazine in their first group of Found Women. She was inducted into the RI Heritage Hall of Fame in 2006 and was named a Local Legend by the American Medical Women’s Association.
She is the author of How To Keep From Breaking Your Heart: What Every Woman Needs to Know About Cardiovascular Disease, (Jones & Bartlett, 2004, second edition, 2009 Chinese Edition, 2008), Treating and Beating Heart Disease: a consumer’s guide to cardiac medicines, (Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2009),The Truth About Statins: Risks and Alternatives to Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs (Simon & Schuster, 2012, Italian edition, La Verita Sul Colesterololo, 2013, Hebrew edition 2013, audio book 2013) and The Doctor Broad: A Mafia Love Story (Heliotrope Books 2019).

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