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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the cause of having him expelled. . . . It has all been smoothed out temporarily, but have this in mind.”43 As the school year came to a close, Kennedy was worried that Jack would not make it out of Choate if he didn’t do better. Now thoroughly exasperated at the ups and downs in his son’s scholastic career, he wrote him once again—this time in the harshest terms he could employ: “Don’t let me lose confidence in you again, because it will be pretty nearly an impossible task to restore it—I

against “the close-knit and sincere, but intolerant group” that attacked him as an “appeaser,” was working on his own plan to bring Kennedy back into the government. He proposed to Roosevelt and to Hull that Kennedy be appointed as a special presidential envoy and sent to Ireland, ostensibly to discuss food supplies but secretly to negotiate with President Éamon de Valera on behalf of the British, who wanted to be able to make use of Irish military bases. The proposal was outlandish, noted

1917, Joseph Kennedy got into his Ford, said good-bye to Rose, two-year-old Joe Jr., and five-month-old John, and drove the fourteen miles from Beals Street in Brookline to the Fore River plant. Kennedy’s first assignment was to help design and oversee the company’s employee insurance programs. He was also asked to manage construction of the transportation infrastructure required to get twenty-six thousand workers to, from, and between Boston, Quincy, Fore River, and Squantum. He secured

both of them, but you could see that they felt great emotion and great joy on that occasion from the fact that they had met once more.”11 — Two years shy of a month after his stroke, at approximately 1:40 in the afternoon on Friday, November 22, 1963, while Kennedy was napping after lunch in Hyannis Port, his youngest son, Edward Kennedy (who had been elected to the Senate the year before), presided over a routine debate on federal aid to public libraries. There was a noticeable shout

Though he never learned to sail, he made sure his children did, and cheered them on when they began to race. He had, he often told them, bought a house on the water (two, in fact—one in Hyannis Port, the other in Palm Beach) so that they would want to spend time there. Joe Jr., now seventeen, square-jawed and ruggedly handsome, was the family’s master sailor. He collected brochures from the brokers, and advised his father on what boats to buy, from whom, and for how much. Jack crewed for him.

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