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Edward Kennedy: An Intimate Biography

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  • Posted August 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Strongly Recommended for Any Supporter or Detractor of the Kennedy Family

    This is a thoroughly researched book by an acquaintance of Edward "Ted" Kennedy. Burton Hersh did a splendid job juxtaposing the personal trials and tribulations, vices and virtues of Senator Kennedy as a champion of American liberalism and the "Lion of the Senate." What the reader gets from this intimate biography is a portrait of a Kennedy who lived within the shadows of his fallen brothers Jack and Bobby's legacies, yet he grew to become one of the most skilled politicians and legislators in American history. This political maturation of Ted Kennedy even exceeded the political skills of Jack and Bobby. However, this book would not be complete without researching the many personal failings of Ted Kennedy. Ted's love of everything French: wine, cheese, and women took on an American metamorphosis of vice: excessive drinking, excessive eating, and his fair share of sleeping with women. The often misunderstood and media frenzied Chappaquiddick accident is dealt with thoroughly in Hersh's book, and it reveals a side of Ted Kennedy that often gets overlooked by detractors of him. Without revealing too much content in this book, the reader will evidently find in the end that Senator Kennedy sought redemption from his personal shortcomings. It is up to the reader to decide if Ted Kennedy found that redemption. The reader will also find why certain legislative issues, e.g. healthcare insurance, voting rights, civil rights, education, etc., drove Senator Kennedy to push such bills through Congress often, but not always, by working across partisan lines with conservatives and other Republicans. Hersh offers revealing anecdotes of Senator Kennedy's private experiences with healthcare--particularly health insurance--and why he strove his whole legislative career to see universal health coverage become a reality in America. Most importantly, the reader should walk away from this book with a deeper, more down-to-earth "human" understanding of Ted Kennedy. Those who know the Kennedy family well will say that Ted Kennedy could relate to the common, mid-class American man and woman much easier than his siblings. Part of that may come from being the youngest of nine children, but it may be due to Teddy's unique life experiences!

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