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.
One of the best - and most gripping - biographies I have ever read. The reader is excellent - even his approximation of various accents is good and not distracting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Little person in big city.
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.
For me it was probably when the family was notified of sister Kathleens death.
Everything. His changing accents for different characters was excellent.
Probably. But for me it was better to do it a couple of chapters at a time.
Report Inappropriate Content