The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy

The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy

David Nasaw

Language: English

Pages: 896

ISBN: 1594203768

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalist
New York Times Ten Best Books of 2012

“Riveting…The Patriarch is a book hard to put down.”  – Christopher Buckley, The New York Times Book Review

In this magisterial new work The Patriarch, the celebrated historian David Nasaw tells the full story of Joseph P. Kennedy, the founder of the twentieth century's most famous political dynasty. Nasaw—the only biographer granted unrestricted access to the Joseph P. Kennedy papers in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library—tracks Kennedy's astonishing passage from East Boston outsider to supreme Washington insider. Kennedy's seemingly limitless ambition drove his career to the pinnacles of success as a banker, World War I shipyard manager, Hollywood studio head, broker, Wall Street operator, New Deal presidential adviser, and founding chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. His astounding fall from grace into ignominy did not come until the years leading up to and following America's entry into the Second World War, when the antiwar position he took as the first Irish American ambassador to London made him the subject of White House ire and popular distaste.

The Patriarch is a story not only of one of the twentieth century's wealthiest and most powerful Americans, but also of the family he raised and the children who completed the journey he had begun. Of the many roles Kennedy held, that of father was most dear to him. The tragedies that befell his family marked his final years with unspeakable suffering.

The Patriarch looks beyond the popularly held portrait of Kennedy to answer the many questions about his life, times, and legacy that have continued to haunt the historical record. Was Joseph P. Kennedy an appeaser and isolationist, an anti-Semite and a Nazi sympathizer, a stock swindler, a bootlegger, and a colleague of mobsters? What was the nature of his relationship with his wife, Rose? Why did he have his daughter Rosemary lobotomized? Why did he oppose the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, the Korean War, and American assistance to the French in Vietnam? What was his relationship to J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI? Did he push his second son into politics and then buy his elections for him?

In this pioneering biography, Nasaw draws on never-before-published materials from archives on three continents and interviews with Kennedy family members and friends to tell the life story of a man who participated in the major events of his times: the booms and busts, the Depression and the New Deal, two world wars and a cold war, and the birth of the New Frontier. In studying Kennedy's life, we relive with him the history of the American Century.

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can scarcely be civil.”38 The ambassador was furious at the reprimands and frightened at the consequences that might follow from the White House disowning “the Kennedy plan.” Unless something was done to rescue European Jews from Nazi terror, American and British Jews would become implacable opponents of further negotiations, and they would apply their media influence and political power to force America into war against Germany. The fact that there was no organized or unorganized effort by

23. When Neville Chamberlain suggested that it might be better if he returned a bit sooner, the president, on Hull’s request, called him in Palm Beach to ask that he cut short his vacation.48 He stopped over in Washington for a final meeting with Roosevelt before departing. “He had a bad cold that day and received me in his upstairs study,” Kennedy would later write in his Diplomatic Memoir. “He had no particular instructions to give me, but once more I told him I did not want to go to

Solomons. His father sent his “Amphogel [antacid] Tablets” to San Francisco, hoping they’d be forwarded across the Pacific.35 The next to depart was Kick, twenty-three, who intended to follow her big brothers into public service. She enlisted in the Red Cross and requested assignment to one of the many canteens for American servicemen in Great Britain, Australia, and North Africa. Given her and her father’s connections, she hoped to be assigned to London to be with Billy Hartington, who had

was lucidly written, had received terrific reviews, and was selling well: all ingredients that were taken into account by the jurors who gave it the prize. — Ted returned to Harvard and football in the fall of 1955. For Kennedy, his success on the football field—he was the starting end—almost made up for his earlier academic lapses. For the final game of the 1955 season, Kennedy organized a trip of family and friends from Boston to New Haven. As John Droney, one of Jack’s campaign aides

before Mass? I do not suppose you, in your ignorance and lack of religion, know the first thing about this yourself, but perhaps you can get one of those pious girls who go to the mountains to find out.” His reference to Mass and confession in the first sentence, followed by his mention of the “pious” girls—was he referring to Miss Edling and Miss Bliss?—reveals, if ever a single document did, the complexity of the man and the ease with which he had juggled the sacred and the profane.21 —

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