Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families

Overview

From John Adams’s sons two hundred years ago to the Bush brothers today, America has witnessed a long line of dynastic sons who have been forced into political roles by their ambitious relatives. Great Expectations examines the burden of being born into one of America’s royal families, where the choice is between achieving the pinnacle of political power—or failing miserably trying.

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Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families

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Overview

From John Adams’s sons two hundred years ago to the Bush brothers today, America has witnessed a long line of dynastic sons who have been forced into political roles by their ambitious relatives. Great Expectations examines the burden of being born into one of America’s royal families, where the choice is between achieving the pinnacle of political power—or failing miserably trying.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
* American political life has been marked by family dynasties, which generally rise, coast and fall, leaving broken ambitions in their wake. So argues journalist and biographer Emery (Washington) in this study of such American political families as the Adamses, the Roosevelts, the Kennedys and the Bushes. While Emery examines the ascents of Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, her real focus is on the frustrations and tragedies that, like the embarrassing relatives the families try to shield from public view, have long attached themselves to these dynasties. Emery predictably proposes that the younger generations chafe against unachievable expectations and express their anger in the wayward behavior she describes as a dynastic curse. Thus the dissolute, alcoholic sons of John Adams find modern parallels in the post-1968 Kennedys and the preconversion George W. Bush, all of whom lost their way in their ancestors' long shadows. However, Emery's analysis fails to rise above the simplistic. Emery also revels in the vexations of Al Gore for a full three chapters—two more than she gives to the entire Roosevelt saga. There is much to be said about political dynasties in the United States, but this is hardly the first word, let alone the last. (Dec.) (Publishers Weekly, October 16, 2006)
Carolyn See
In Great Expectations, Noemie Emery takes a look at five presidential dynastic families (including one family that -- so far -- hasn't gotten past the first generation) and shows, compassionately and insightfully, how these terrible yearnings and expectations play out. She shuns politics as such; her interests are human and personal. Her book is as heartbreaking as it is fascinating.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
American political life has been marked by family dynasties, which generally rise, coast and fall, leaving broken ambitions in their wake. So argues journalist and biographer Emery (Washington) in this study of such American political families as the Adamses, the Roosevelts, the Kennedys and the Bushes. While Emery examines the ascents of Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, her real focus is on the frustrations and tragedies that, like the embarrassing relatives the families try to shield from public view, have long attached themselves to these dynasties. Emery predictably proposes that the younger generations chafe against unachievable expectations and express their anger in the wayward behavior she describes as a dynastic curse. Thus the dissolute, alcoholic sons of John Adams find modern parallels in the post-1968 Kennedys and the preconversion George W. Bush, all of whom lost their way in their ancestors' long shadows. However, Emery's analysis fails to rise above the simplistic. Emery also revels in the vexations of Al Gore for a full three chapters two more than she gives to the entire Roosevelt saga. There is much to be said about political dynasties in the United States, but this is hardly the first word, let alone the last. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471234890
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.54 (w) x 9.53 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Noemie Emery is a Washington journalist who writes regularly on culture and politics for the Weekly Standard and also writes for Commentary, Women's Quarterly, and National Review. Her book reviews have appeared in the Weekly Standard, National Review, the Washington Times, and the Washington Post. Emery is the author of two biographies, Washington and Alexander Hamilton: An Intimate Portrait. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
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Table of Contents

Preface.

Introduction.

1 Adamses.

2 Roosevelts.

3 Kennedys: Rise.

4 Kennedys: Decline and Fall.

5 Their Three Sons.

6 Bush versus Gore versus Bush.

7 2001.

Epilogue.

Selected Sources.

Index.

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