Celebrated historian David Nasaw brings to life the story of Joseph Patrick Kennedy, in this, the first and only biography based on unrestricted and exclusive access to the Joseph P. Kennedy papers.
Joseph Patrick Kennedy - whose life spanned the First World War, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, the Second World War, and the Cold War - was the patriarch of America’s greatest political dynasty. The father of President John F. Kennedy and Senators Robert and Edward Kennedy, 'Joe' Kennedy was an indomitable and elusive figure whose dreams of advancement for his nine children were matched only by his extraordinary personal ambition and shrewd financial skills. Trained as a banker, Kennedy was also a Hollywood mogul, a stock-exchange savant, a shipyard manager, the founding chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and ambassador to London during the Battle of Britain. Though his incredible life encompasses the very heart of the American century, Joseph Kennedy has remained shrouded in rumor and prejudice for decades.
Drawing on never-before-published material from archives on three continents, David Nasaw - the renowned biographer of Andrew Carnegie and William Randolph Hearst - unearths a man far more complicated than the popular portrait. Was Kennedy an appeaser and isolationist, an anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer, a stock swindler, a bootlegger, and a colleague of mobsters? Did he push his second son into politics and then buy his elections for him? 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 his FBI? How did he influence his son’s politics and policies in the White House?
In this groundbreaking biography, Nasaw ignores the tired old answers surrounding Kennedy, starting from scratch to discover the truth behind this misunderstood man.
Though far from a saint, Joseph Kennedy in many ways exemplifies the best in American political, economic, and social life. His rags-to-riches story is one of exclusion and quiet discrimination overcome by entrepreneurship, ingenuity, and unshakable endurance. Kennedy’s story deserves to be told in full, with no holds barred, and Nasaw’s magnificent The Patriarch is the first book to do so.
©2012 David Nasaw (P)2012 Penguin Audio
Thoroughly enjoyed this book, one of my absolute favorites. Was disappointed with the coverage of the Kennedy brothers assassination. For this reason I gave it 4 stars.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
“The Patriarch” is a revealing fact-filled account by David Nasaw of the father of the 35th President of the United States. Nasaw plays no favorites in reporting historical facts and political movements of early and mid-20th century America. Nasaw’s research invades Kennedy’s privacy to document public and private correspondence with history makers of his time. Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. praises, and abrades the greatest men, and some of the most beautiful women, of the mid-20th century. Joseph P. Kennedy lives an unequal life in a land of equal opportunity.
Joseph Kennedy grows to believe there is a Jewish cabal maneuvering to takeover the media to influence government because he reasons that all consequences have precisely definable causes. When his son, Jack Kennedy campaigned for President, Joseph Kennedy felt the Catholic Church organized to defeat his son without thought that there were many reasons individual Catholics would not vote for his son. When a precise cause cannot be identified, the human mind tends to manufacture conspiratorial causes. Joseph Kennedy uses a narrow focus of attention that makes sense in the business world but misses nuances of cause and effect in a political world.
Politics have an important role in life because they deal with means; not just ends. Life is not only a business decision; i.e. ends are more than profit and financial security. Proof of the need for a broad vision of life is offered in David Nasaw’s history of Joseph P. Kennedy’s life; i.e. a life filled with good and bad behavior, joy and tragedy; in unequal measure. Joseph P. Kennedy outlived four of his nine children–Joseph Jr. (killed in WWII),Kathleen (died in a plane crash),John F. (assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald), and Robert Kennedy (assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan).
Yes, I enjoyed it very much.
My favorite character was Joseph P Kennedy. He was full of life and wasn't afraid to speak his mind. A strong presence that commanded respect. Infatuated with his family, but especially his children.
The end of the book was particularly sad. Such a spectacular human being ending up in such a physical condition. Having to endure the death of his two boys entombed in his own body, unable to express the rage he must have felt. It almost seemed as if he was paying for some unimaginable sin. What he cared for the most was stripped away at the weakest period in his life.
Will read (or in this case, listen) to just about anything.
Incredibly interesting overall, but at 31 hours it could really use some editing. Also, I kept getting the impression that this was the white-washed version of his life - the version his family would have no objections to.
Highly reccomend THIS BOOK.
This is a most powerful book.
Until I listened to The Patriarch, I was not a Kennedy fan. I had always head he had mob connections but after hearing this book I believe they were but jealous lies. In his time perhaps he would have been a better President. I wish the book had written sooner.
Joseph P Kennedy is an American Patriot. His detractors are just that, detractors.
The performance was flawlessly executed. Well worth the time spent listening.
In a heart beat..........Well written & a very interesting "20th Century" personality
Bios but this is a little different. He has his moments but mainly a very focused personality
Yes .....No problem
He was a filmmaker & would "comeback to produce".
If you are in anyway interested in the "Kennedy's"..be sure to read / listen.
It's a very good biography. Not the most exciting non-fiction audiobook I've listened to, but still very enjoyable and informative.
I liked best the author's analysis outsiders' opinion of Joe Kennedy was the best part. He gives both the central character's opinions, but also those of outsiders, citing writings and interviews and even speculating based on actions and knowledge of Kennedy's contemporaries.
I enjoyed his use of appropriate accents when reading quotes by different people in the book. It was wide-ranging, but particularly pronounced in the Bostonian and English accents.
This book encourages thought and pondering of the people in the book as well as the times they lived in. I cannot say it was one I would have enjoyed in a single sitting, as the facts presented are a lot to digest.
I think it's the best way to read this kind of book. The sentences of this particular author are very long, and in some places the topic is a little dry. An audio book is ideal for these sorts of books in which you want to get the facts and the story, but don't want to have to sit and read it.
Several biographies on Jack and Ted led me to want to know more about their father Joe, which brought me to Nasaw's biography, an extraordinary biography of a fascinating man whose influence on his children can not be understated. Kudos to Nasaw whose extensive research allows him to present both a deep dive into this historically important man, but also an unusually unbiased discussion. So whilst I came away with strong view that this was an evil man, I was equally struck with immense respect for his deeply felt principles, his unflinching dedication to them, his extraordinary accomplishments, and the tragedies he endured.
But most of all was the insights into this family that helped me to understand his children in ways that multiple biographies on each of them failed to convey. Joe was more than a force. He was an industrialist success story to rival Carnegie. He was as involved in his family as he was in his business, with tactics in each that inspire and revolt. His devotion and dysfunction in his marriage is extraordinary, perhaps an exageration of his era that is hard to comprehend today. That he had so many children develop such extraordinary lives and be such a force for this country is a reflection of this aptly titled book--the remarkable life and turbulent times of Joe Kennedy.
I cannot complain about Nasaw's writing: he is generous and understanding. I liked Joe Kennedy going in, and he didn't suffer much on the way. Nasaw disposes of the "bootlegger" lie handily; it is too bad he had to bother with that at all. A little more on the Hollywood years would have been appreciated here, but there is only so much you can squeeze into a fat biography.
My reservations are mainly about the narration, which does not seem to have suffered any decent editor's fine hand. The narrator does not know what he is talking about sometimes, continually pronouncing the Astors' Cliveden House as Clyve-den (it's 'Clivdin'); he also repeatedly mispronounces the name Cadogan (as in the Irish surname, the peer and the multiple placenames in London) as Ca-dough-gin when it is of course Ca-duggin. He turns Noroton, Connecticut into Norritin (rather than 'Nor-O-tin'). And so on. These are not minor quibbles. If one is going to speak of the 'Cliveden Set' many times, one should at least know how to pronounce it.
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