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Publisher's Summary

The youngest of nine children born to Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, he came of age among siblings from whom much was expected. As a young man, he played a key role in the presidential campaign of his brother John F. Kennedy, recounted here in loving detail. In 1962 he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he began a fascinating political education and became a legislator.

In this historic memoir, the late Ted Kennedy takes us inside his family, re-creating life with his parents and brothers and explaining their profound impact on him. For the first time, he describes his heartbreak and years of struggle in the wake of their deaths. Through it all, he describes his work in the Senate on the major issues of our time - civil rights, Vietnam, Watergate, the quest for peace in Northern Ireland - and the cause of his life: improved health care for all Americans, a fight influenced by his own experiences in hospitals.

His life was marked by tragedy and perseverance, a love of family, and an abiding faith. There have been controversies, too, and Kennedy addresses them with unprecedented candor.

At midlife, embattled and uncertain if he would ever fall in love again, he met the woman who changed his life, Victoria Reggie Kennedy. Facing a tough reelection campaign against an aggressive challenger named Mitt Romney, Kennedy found a new voice and began one of the great third acts in American politics, sponsoring major legislation, standing up for liberal principles, and making the pivotal endorsement of Barack Obama for president.

Hundreds of books have been written about the Kennedys. True Compass will endure as the definitive account from a member of America's most heralded family, an inspiring legacy to listeners and to history, and a deeply moving story of a life like no other.

©2009 Edward M. Kennedy; (P)2009 Hachette Audio

What members say

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  • Overall
  • Mark
  • Warner, NH, USA
  • 09-25-09

A Walk through the 20th Century

The story of Ted Kennedy's life is, in so many ways, the story of us all. Not in the details and personal reflections but in the ways in which his family and his personality shaped and was shaped by the critical events of the last century.

When I began "True Compass" I knew I would enjoy it but I had no idea how compelling a story it would be. At nineteen hours the unabridged version still seems short!

Kennedy told his story in a simple, accessible style that was clearly from his heart. He didn't try to psychoanalyze himself or his family, it's wasn't his style. Instead he simply related the amazing accounts of his life in a way that invites the reader to listen and understand. His story allows us to not only understand more fully the makeup of the Kennedy Clan and the dynamics which shaped their activities in both the civic arena and their private lives, we see through his own eyes the struggles that came with the Kennedy legacy.

Reading Ted Kennedy's story provides a new layer of understanding about many of the critical events of the 20th century. It is a story that reveals the way human agency is always at work to shape the world around us. Ultimately, then, with this new understanding, the astute reader should be inspired with a deeper understanding of the difference each of us can make in our world today.

Of course this is an audiobook and regardless of the quality of the story, the reader must communicate with humanity and clarity, and in this task John Lloyd excels. There are times when I had to remind myself that this wasn't HIS story, the expressiveness of his narration was so powerful.

This is a story that definitely deserves the time to be read, cover to cover. But it is also a story that takes on a new life when you HEAR it read and experience the richness of who Ted Kennedy was in this intimate, personal way.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Nancy
  • Sarasota, FL, United States
  • 09-23-09

A wonderful book about a life full of wonders...

A wonderful book about a life full of the wonders of our history; a life that was fully dedicated to the most wonderful country God could imagine. I had the privilege of working with him and Ted Jr. as we sought to secure equal access to the American dream or all Americans. Then and now and always, I will count him amongst the greatest of America's sons.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I found this audio book truly engaging. It is narrated beautifully with humor and warmth throughout. I recommend this book, not only as a good, entertaining read, but also as an entertaining perspective and glimpse into US politics.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Surprisingly Satisfying

I wasn`t planning to but bought this book based on an earlier review in Audio. What I found satisfying was Kennedy`s focus on family and faith in dealing with grief and loss. This reoccuring theme can`t help but resonate with any reader`s issues as well as the question of the afterlife - Kennedy convincingly affirms his belief in eternal life and this was very reassuring and surprisingly moving. Whatever our views about him personally and/or as a politician/public figure - thought the book did a good job in hitting some of messy parts about being human and imperfection. His interactions with his siblings and parents and the family culture with regard to what is open for discussion what isn`t aren`t particularly unique but insightful and can cause reflection in readers. In a weird way it makes the reader more forgiving of the failings of others. I enjoyed the book and others who are NOT looking for gossip and scandal will too. Lastly Kennedy`s frequent focus on sailing struck a chord with regard to how important it is to have a place to go so to speak when things get tough - a good reminder to all.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Gregory
  • New York, NY, USA
  • 12-12-09

Starts off good, but loses steam.

Starts off really good, but loses steam. The first section of the book sounds a lot like your grandfather telling you stories of his life that carry lifelong lessons.

Much of the rest of the book is about his political career. While I understand that he was a politician and thus politics played a large role in his life, it read more like an encyclopedic recounting of his career and lacked much of the insight to his inner struggles and family life that I was expecting to find.

Also, the latter chapters of the book suffer because he rushed to complete the book as his health declined, so everything from 1998 onward is set in a rough sketch (he covered the death of 4 important people, including Jackie O, in about 3 pages). All in all, I'd give it 3 out of 5 stars but would still give it a spot on my "recommended" list.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Very Interesting

First let me say, I am a Republican. I was interested to hear Kennedy's views of historical events in which he was so closely involved. This book did not disappoint, even as his political views were quite irritating to me. I found his inside "scoop" on the different presidents enlightening, although they are quite liberally skewed (as you might expect). The narrator was wonderful. He spoke so naturally, I kept thinking it was Kennedy speaking, then I would realize it was not.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Poor Teddy

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes - I think it's a good read

Would you be willing to try another book from Edward M. Kennedy? Why or why not?

Yes. He doesn't write great literature but it all seems very real and honest.

What aspect of John Bedford Lloyd???s performance would you have changed?

I thought someone with a more Bostonian accent would have told the story better.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?


Any additional comments?

I admire Ted Kennedy's ability to take responsibility for all the dumb things he did.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • GABY
  • Miami, FL, United States
  • 04-18-11

A simply fascinating true story...

This book reveals the Kennedy family as an all-American "family" involved in the political history of the world for once, and not as they have always been portrayed, "politicians" that happened to be family. Incredible story that will make you laugh and cry, feel proud and angry, sad and inspired, all at the same time. All Americans should be proud of having such a family as part of our culture and their legacy as part of our history.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Felicia
  • Burnaby, BC, Canada
  • 04-18-10

Good read

It gives you insight into the Kennedy family and why there was such a drive for success. A very good, easy read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mo
  • Palo Alto, CA, USA
  • 11-03-09

Mo reads Ted.

A timely look into the life of a devoted, respected and often misunderstood Senator, politician, Father, Husband, Uncle, Brother and Son. I was engrossed through the entire listen. This book serves as a terrific study in modern American politics from 1930 to the present. His final chapters on his feelings about the Senate are thoughtful and engaging.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful