The Kennedy Legacy: Jack, Bobby and Ted and a Family Dream Fulfilled

Overview

John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy's individual stories can be seen as essentially one, each successive brother striving to fulfill the interrupted promise of the brother before. The closing of Ted Kennedy's chapter in America’s political and cultural life means that, for the first time perhaps, the real measure of the Kennedy legacy can finally be taken. This is a story of a brotherhood in three acts: Act I is John F. Kennedy’s presidency, as seen from Ted’s front-row seat. Act II is Robert Kennedy’s five brief years...

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The Kennedy Legacy: Jack, Bobby and Ted and a Family Dream Fulfilled

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Overview

John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy's individual stories can be seen as essentially one, each successive brother striving to fulfill the interrupted promise of the brother before. The closing of Ted Kennedy's chapter in America’s political and cultural life means that, for the first time perhaps, the real measure of the Kennedy legacy can finally be taken. This is a story of a brotherhood in three acts: Act I is John F. Kennedy’s presidency, as seen from Ted’s front-row seat. Act II is Robert Kennedy’s five brief years as the family standard bearer, including his tenure in the Senate with his brother Ted and the memorable 82-day presidential campaign that redefined the Kennedy legacy. Act III is Ted’s 40-plus years in the Senate as keeper of the flame.

How did the brothers pass the torch to each other? What have the three brothers left us collectively? And who carries the torch forward now? The Kennedy Legacy compellingly answers these questions and much more.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Washington Post news editor and features writer Bzdek. . .delineates [the story] succinctly and compellingly. . .Bzdek does a fine job.”—Kirkus

 

“The strength of Bzdek's book is to put Kennedy's accomplishments in the context of his family history”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

 

"Vincent Bzdek is a superb writer and terrific researcher. He's gotten to the heart of what made the Kennedy brothers such a powerful force in American politics." —Tom Cronin, author of The Paradoxes of the American Presidency

 

"In a timely and readable biography, Vince Bzdek describes in authoritative and colorful detail Ted Kennedy's remarkable rise from the bottom rung of the legendary Kennedy family's public service ladder to a transcendant role in American politics, government and public life." —Len Downie, former executive editor of The Washington Post, and author of The Rules of the Game

 

Kirkus Reviews
Washington Post news editor and features writer Bzdek (Woman of the House: The Rise of Nancy Pelosi, 2007) recasts the brothers' famous story in four acts, as each picks up the torch in the aftermath of tragedy. Act I chronicles their childhood under a harsh father, Joseph P. Kennedy, who groomed his sons for politics from a very young age; it ends with the death in World War II of Joseph Kennedy Jr., oldest brother and the family's political hope. In the second act, John takes Joe Jr.'s place and goes from congressman to senator to president in scarcely over a decade. Act III follows Robert as he soldiers on after John's assassination, becoming a senator and a presidential candidate, only to be shot in 1968. In the final act, Edward, too, runs for president and eventually becomes the lion of the U.S. Senate. Bzdek sees the Kennedy legacy not as a brief, shining moment, but as an ongoing part of the modern American story, with each brother continuing the mission of his predecessors. It's not a highly original insight, but the author delineates it succinctly and compellingly. Bzdek shines in his selection of details that reveal the Kennedy's humanity: Joseph Sr. unfurling a map at the dinner table to make geopolitical points to his children; John showing up for his first day as a congressman in tennis shoes and no jacket; Robert weeping onstage at the 1964 Democratic Convention; Edward's determination to give a speech at the 2008 Democratic Convention despite his diagnosis of brain cancer. Little here will surprise Kennedy buffs, but Bzdek does a fine job with the material. A short but well-told overview. First printing of 75,000. Author tour to New York, Boston, Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230613676
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 4/27/2009
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 9.58 (w) x 6.38 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Vincent Bzdek is the news editor and a features writer at The Washington Post. He has also written for The Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine, The Denver Post, and is the author of Woman of the House (Palgrave, 2007). He lives in Washington, D.C.

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Read an Excerpt

"Joe would often serve as a surrogate parent, filling in as enforcer and role model during the frequent absences of Joe Sr. and Rose. Jack would act as the family’s detached observer, commenting and dissecting the proceedings as much as participating in them. Bobby was the fierce-willed altar boy, fighting for every scrap of ground he could get with a kind of messianic zeal, and Ted was the roll-with-the-punches guy. In short, Joe Jr. was the family’s star, Jack its wit, Bobby its soul, and Ted its laugh . . . Joe Sr. genuinely expected all four sons to be president. He gloated when they were children that he would outdo the Adams family, which only had two presidents." – from The Kennedy Legacy

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Table of Contents

Prologue The Last Hurrah Joe, Jack, Bobby and Teddy The Blowtorch An Army of Mothers A Letter from Joe The Sweet-and-Sour Brother Act The Kennedy Generation Let Us Begin Ted's Turn Brothers in Arms The Impossible Dream The Reluctant Patriarch The Torchbearer A Camelot Too Far The Minotaur Four Funerals and a Wedding His Finest Hour The Fight of his Life Epilogue - The Dream Lives On

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    stick to the facts please!

    some of the facts are so easy to check but this writer didn't bother. For example, he refers to the Kennedy home in Palm Springs-it was in Palm Beach (which he correcvtly refers to on the next page). He also refers to the death of Kathleen Kennedy's "fiance" Billy Hartington shortly afterthey had announced their engagement. Kathleen & Billy had been married (there are even photos of the wartime wedding attended by Joe, Jr & Jack, among others). Billy was killed in the war not long after the marriage. It's these little details that made me question the veracity or correctness of the rest of the book and leave it unfinished.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2009

    Kennedy's

    I have not been able to put this book down since I received it last week. We read here the details and behind the scenes accounts of the Kennedy family in addition to some in depth looks at Jack, Bobby and Ted from Ted's perspective.

    I remember reading 'Profiles in Courage' and referring to it a lot as a kid. But, looking back, the Kennedy family was the first to take advantage of the media available at the time. However, the close intimate look at snippets of daily life, not in flowery language, just plain facts. How Joe Sr. pushed his boys to become leaders. He wanted them all to be President some day. The talks around the dinner table, the events and activities of the family that would really be a kind of symbol of the America dream for many Americans.

    We get three great views of each of the Kennedys. We all know about John and Bobby, and I wish that he had written a little more about these two. With Ted, you get the sense that he is telling a lot about him, but, giving him the break that many have given him, forgiving him, as he continued his time in the Senate. The third longest time in the Senate according to the author.

    His focus is on the 'Dream' that JFK first spoke of, that Bobby attempted to make reality and that through thousands of written bills, Ted has made reality. What impresses me is that we see the spirit of bipartisanship promoted by Ted, although he may be extreme to some, his passion for helping the little guy must be something to look at. We see Ted's friendhip with Republican Orin Hatch. We see his humor. We see his passion as Ted pushed himself to speak at the last DNC. "The Dream Lives On." I remember that speech and how it touched me.

    The author leaves us thinking about the next generation of Kennedys. We will see if Caroline takes up with Ted left off. No matter your point of view, you just have to love the passion for what this family has stood for. I think reading about those who have succeeded in life is critical for our people and those around the world.

    The Kennedy Legacy is a book that will have its place in many a library. It is a book that will inspire you to think great things and to see what you can do to get involved (What you can do for your country) in a critical time such as this.

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    Posted July 6, 2009

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