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
Yes, the narration was a plus to the story.
It's hard to say as it was somewhat contemporary, thus one feels like you were around at the time. On the other hand we got wonderful insights on a man who functioned in this world we think we know. You can't compare it to a biography of say Churchill; more like Howard Hughes. (Who was that, Irving?0
Don't recall, but this was great.
What moved me? It's not that sort of narrative. You feel like you are getting an inside look at a very complicated man and his relationships with his family, friends and his own conscious. I could not wait to get back to it.
Nassau did a lot of homework and it shows. He is an excellent writer. The subtlety used to draw out very difficult topics and subjects gives it credibility. You find yourself impatiently waiting to get to the next stage of his life.
The narrator did a masterful job and added to the enjoyment of this book.
The many ways he made his money are well covered. So are his politics and misadventures as Ambassador to England. His strengths as a father are nicely recounted. His understandable frustration with the Catholic Church's failure to support JFK's 1960 candidacy is the biggest revelation.
This long and detailed biography of the patriarch of one of America's most famous families takes a listener into many fascinating segments of 20th century history. Along the way, a listener becomes familiear not only with the Kennedy family and children, but with other 20th century luminaries such as Gloria Swanson and, most brilliantly, FDR and his entourage. Many myths about the patriarch are dispelled and unknown facets of his life and those with whom he interacted are elucidated. The section during which Joseph P. was Ambassador to Great Britain is brilliantly told, tremendously gripping, and always shadowed by the listener's knowledge of the fate of the patriarch's oldest son. Wonderfully narrated even if the assumed accents are occasionally annoying. HIGHLY recommended for anyone interested in 20th century history.
I loved this book but then I'm a history junkie. Didn't hurt that I have read biographies on FDR and Truman as well. Long but then I didn't want it to end. Nasaw dispelled some of the Joe Kennedy myths for me and now I am even more impressed with this incredibly productive man and his family. Additionally, Hillgartner's reading was excellent. Loved the accents.
It should be noted by anyone who is interested in this book that the author mentions in the beginning that he was commissioned by the Kennedy family to write this book. That information was not in the description, so I was a bit disappointed to find that out after I had already purchased this book.
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).
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