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Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy

Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy

by Peter S. Canellos (Editor), The Staff of the Boston Globe

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Peter S. Canellos and his team of Boston Globe reporters magnificently capture the life, historic achievements and personal redemption of Ted Kennedy

No figure in American public life has had such great expectations thrust upon him, or has responded so poorly. At the age of 36, Ted Kennedy found himself the last brother, the champion


Peter S. Canellos and his team of Boston Globe reporters magnificently capture the life, historic achievements and personal redemption of Ted Kennedy

No figure in American public life has had such great expectations thrust upon him, or has responded so poorly. At the age of 36, Ted Kennedy found himself the last brother, the champion of a generation's dreams and ambitions. He would be expected to give the nation the confidence to confront its problems and to build a fairer society, at home and abroad.

He quickly failed in spectacular fashion. On the basis of his family name he was elected to the U.S. Senate while barely old enough to serve. Then, late one night in the summer of 1969, he left the scene of a fatal automobile accident in Chappaquiddick Island. The death there of a young woman would haunt and ultimately doom his presidential ambitions. Republicans turned his all-too-human failings — drinking, divorce, and philandering — into a condemnation of his liberal politics.

But as the presidency eluded his grasp, Kennedy was finally liberated from the expectations of others and transformed himself into a symbol of wisdom and perseverance. He built a deeply loving marriage with his second wife, Vicki Reggie. He embraced his role as the family patriarch. And as his health failed, he anointed presidential candidate Barack Obama, whom many commentators compared to his brother Jack. The Kennedy brand of liberalism was rediscovered by a new generation of Americans.

Drawing heavily from candid interviews with the Kennedy family and inner circle, Last Lion captures magnificently the life and historic achievements of Ted Kennedy.

Editorial Reviews

Chris Cillizza
…an insightful biography
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

This biography delves deeply into Senator Kennedy's nearly half-century legislative career-but it's the personal dramas that prove the most enthralling; tracks are organized such that listeners bored by the politics can click ahead for a quit exit back to Hyannisport, Georgetown, Palm Beach or Chappaquiddick. Skipp Sudduth imbues his narration with feeling, recounting the numerous tragedies (the death of all three of Kennedy's brothers, his son's cancer and subsequent leg amputation, his nephew JFK Jr.'s fatal plane crash and now his own brain tumor) with quiet dignity. Despite the countless trials, this is anything but depressing listening; the resilience and indomitable optimism of the subject himself is well-conveyed by this enjoyable recording. A Simon & Schuster hardcover. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Canellos and his team of Boston Globe reporters begin this insightful and informative biography of Ted Kennedy with the 2008 news of his malignant tumor, then chronicle his childhood, relating anecdotes and discussing his good humor, generosity, trials and tribulations, ambitions, many tragedies, and more. The reporting draws from candid interviews with the Kennedys and their inner circle. One of the book's most interesting components is its description of Kennedy's relationship with his wife, Victoria Reggie. Actor/musician/narrator Skipp Sudduth (Just After Sunset) engagingly relays both the personal and professional milestones of the senator's life; strongly recommended. [Audio clip available through simonandschuster.com; the S. & S. hc, published in February, was a New York Times best seller.-Ed.]
—Carol Stern

Kirkus Reviews
A respectful but not stuffy portrait of Edward Kennedy, the playboy of legendary appetites turned senior statesman. Upon learning last spring that Kennedy had been stricken with cancer, John McCain lauded him as "the last lion of the Senate," adding that "he remains the single most effective member of the Senate if you want to get results." By this account, assembled by Canellos and a team of seasoned reporters from the Boston Globe, McCain's encomium seems right on the mark. Kennedy has been notable in pushing through a wide variety of laws and programs, particularly ones that concern health, education and workers' rights. It was not always that way. The writers portray the early Kennedy-the last of four brothers and nine children, and often the target of withering criticism-as just shy of being a wastrel, ejected from Harvard for cheating on a Spanish exam and fond of the night life. A stint as an enlisted man in the Army-during which his father pulled strings to keep him from the battle lines in Korea-helped turn him around, but he still got arrested for reckless driving even as he was preparing to serve as his brother Jack's campaign manager. Thrust into the family trade, Kennedy "walloped his Republican opponent, grabbing three-quarters of the vote" in the 1964 Senate race, and he slowly began to build a resume as a serious, studious politician-a reputation blunted but not squashed by scandals such as Chappaquiddick. Most striking about this sturdy account is Kennedy's well-practiced habit of crossing the aisle to disarm his Republican opponents with a combination of charm and arm-twisting. One unlikely ally was Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who came to Congress with a specific agendaof fighting Kennedy on every front. Another was President George W. Bush, whom Kennedy aided in pushing through the No Child Left Behind legislation-though he later "blamed Bush for reneging on his side of the bargain."A balanced, nuanced, warts-and-all portrait. Author tour to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, D.C.
From the Publisher
"In 400 brisk but detail-rich pages, the book...sketches a poignant portrait." — The New York Times Book Review

"If you want a peek inside America's royal family, this is a must-read, with details that only Boston Globe reporters could know." — Tim O'Brien, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

"A balanced, nuanced, warts-and-all portrait." — Kirkus Reviews

"A timely if not revelatory portrait of a flawed figure who 'never expected to become the custodian of his family's sorrows' but found a way to transcend the role." — Alex Altman, Time

"A readable, relatively objective study of the once most-vilified man in contemporary American politics." — The Washington Times

"With the publication of Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy, we get a fresh look at how this man's gothic imperatives — blood loyalty and inherited duty — would make him the greatest U.S. senator of modern times." — Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball and author of Kennedy & Nixon: The Rivalry That Shaped Postwar America

"Last Lion is a fine biography, a graceful summing up an extraordinary life that is not yet over. It shows little sign of having been written by a team of seven, and it does not carry the tone of an obituary. With its anecdotes and political tales, it captures the wit, humor, and grace of Ted Kennedy and establishes his place, 'as much a part of the Capitol as the dome or the Rotunda beneath it.'" — Ken Bode, The Boston Globe

Product Details

Gale Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Large Print Edition
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Peter Canellos is the Washington bureau chief for The Boston Globe and oversees all national coverage for the paper, where he has worked since 1988 covering local, state, and national politics.

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