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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27, he forwarded to Harpo Marx a photograph of the president that he had asked for. “We always deliver, kid. Come on East after Tuesday and help us celebrate.” “Win, lose, or draw,” he wrote James Byrnes, senator from South Carolina and a big Roosevelt supporter, “after Tuesday—Joseph Patrick Kennedy retires from the political ring for ever and a day.”36 The election of Roosevelt to a second term was a foregone conclusion by the time the polls opened on Tuesday, November 3, 1936. But no one

had been no national debate over “war aims”; that defeating Germany and rescuing Great Britain was insufficient cause to sacrifice American lives and fortune; that there was no danger of a German invasion of the western hemisphere, even after the defeat of Great Britain. “It is said that we cannot exist in a world where totalitarianism rules. I grant you—it is a terrible future to contemplate. But why should anyone think that our getting into a war would preserve our ideals, a war which

written, “a consensus emerged among many American physicians that psychosurgery was a treatment that indeed offered certain benefit.”23 Because Joseph P. Kennedy never wrote or talked about his communications with Dr. Freeman, we can only speculate what he asked or what the doctor told him. It is likely that Freeman repeated what he had said to others in consultations, that the operation, if successful—and there was no reason to believe it would not be—would treat Rosemary’s agitated

decided to make the Palm Beach house his headquarters, followed soon afterward. Rose had spent a lifetime complaining with a smile on her face about her children’s habit of bringing home flocks of friends who would track sand into the house. But never before had any of their many residences been as crowded and chaotic as the house on North Ocean Boulevard would be that holiday season. Jack brought with him his valet and secretary; Jackie, who arrived in early December after the birth of John

phoned again. When he asked Bobby whether his phone calls upset Kennedy, Bobby responded that they did, but that they also made “a big difference.” Following Bobby’s advice, Johnson talked to Kennedy about the economy and the stock market. There was no sound on the other end of the phone. Ann Gargan came on the line and apologized to Johnson. Uncle Joe “gets sort of emotional when you call.”15 — In the spring of 1964, there had been an attempt to start up his rehabilitation with a trip

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