For 150 years, the story of the Kennedy family has been inextricably linked to their heritage as Irish-Catholic immigrants—from Patrick Kennedy’s 1848 arrival in Brahmin Boston from Country Wexford Ireland, to Joseph Kennedy’s Vatican ties and Jackie’s thoughts on faith and sorrow, to Kennedy-confidante Father McSorley’s religious counsel following the assassination of JFK. Through groundbreaking interviews with Senator Edward Kennedy and other Kennedy family and friends, acclaimed journalist Thomas Maier casts the Kennedy saga in an entirely new light, showing how their Irish catholic heritage influenced their public and private decisions. Released to coincide with a documentary adapted from the book, this edition features a new preface, in which Maier explores the dynamics of the three brothers, Ted Kennedy’s legacy, and the 2008 presidential elections that have been touched in so many ways by the Kennedy family.
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"Be more Irish than Harvard," inscribed Robert Frost in the book of poetry he gave to John F. Kennedy at the 1961 presidential inauguration. With these simple words, Frost hit upon the experience that defined America's favorite political dynasty for over five generations: their Irish Catholicism. As acclaimed journalist Thomas Maier reveals in The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings, their ethnicity, religion, and cultural background molded the Kennedy family to the core-both bolstering their stunning successes and coloring their spectacular tragedies.
Drawing on groundbreaking research both here and abroad, Maier shows how their Irish Catholic immigrant heritage was far more central to the Kennedy experience than they or any previous chroniclers have allowed. John F. Kennedy's historic climb to the White House-as the first and only religious minority ever elected to the American presidency-is only a fraction of this story.
Beginning with Patrick Kennedy's arrival in the Brahmin world of Boston in 1848, Maier delves into the family saga's deeper personal and emotional currents. He allows us to see family patriarch Joe Kennedy not just as a brilliant American businessman and powermonger, but as a fierce Irish chieftain who suffers loss after tragic loss. And in moving detail, he reveals Jackie Kennedy's thoughts of suicide after her husband's 1963 assassination, as recalled in letters, diaries and an interview with her priest-confessor.
For the first time, this dramatic work of reportage also lays bare the intricate connections that link the family's most well-known stances and decisions with this storied heritage. From the Kennedy's close relationship with the Vatican, including deal-brokering between FDR and Pope Pius XII, on through the role of American cardinals in the 1960 presidential election, to the family's deep roots in Ireland's struggle for freedom, including Kennedy cousin ties to the old IRA, Maier illuminates once secret negotiations and hitherto unacknowledged loyalties. Casting new light on the Kennedys' struggles with race, anti-Semitism, the sexual mores of the Catholic Church, and even on John F. Kennedy's A Nation of Immigrants, the result is a revelatory glimpse at a remarkable intersection of private beliefs and public politics.
In crafting this intimate portrait, Maier was granted access to newly available personal papers from the Joseph P. Kennedy archive at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, and several never-before-published photos from the Kennedy Family Collection. His account relies upon on-the-record interviews as well as research in Ireland, at the Vatican, and throughout the United States. Bringing together exclusive comments from Sen. Edward Kennedy, former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and many others, Thomas Maier tells the story of the Kennedys in an entirely new way-and weaves a spellbinding, uniquely American epic.About the Author:
Thomas Maier is a special writer at New York Newsday. He is the author of the critically acclaimed biography Dr. Spock, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and one of the Boston Globe’s top ten nonfiction titles of 1998, and Newhouse, which won the Frank Luther Mott Award for Best Media Book. He lives on Long Island, New York.
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