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
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.
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