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The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy
     

The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy

4.1 33
by David Nasaw
 

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2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalist
New York Times Ten Best Books of 2012


“Riveting…The Patriarch is a book hard to put down.”  – Christopher Buckley, The New York Times Book Review

In this magisterial new work The Patriarch, the celebrated historian David Nasaw tells the full story of

Overview

2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalist
New York Times Ten Best Books of 2012


“Riveting…The Patriarch is a book hard to put down.”  – Christopher Buckley, The New York Times Book Review

In this magisterial new work The Patriarch, the celebrated historian David Nasaw tells the full story of Joseph P. Kennedy, the founder of the twentieth century's most famous political dynasty. Nasaw—the only biographer granted unrestricted access to the Joseph P. Kennedy papers in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library—tracks Kennedy's astonishing passage from East Boston outsider to supreme Washington insider. Kennedy's seemingly limitless ambition drove his career to the pinnacles of success as a banker, World War I shipyard manager, Hollywood studio head, broker, Wall Street operator, New Deal presidential adviser, and founding chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. His astounding fall from grace into ignominy did not come until the years leading up to and following America's entry into the Second World War, when the antiwar position he took as the first Irish American ambassador to London made him the subject of White House ire and popular distaste.

The Patriarch is a story not only of one of the twentieth century's wealthiest and most powerful Americans, but also of the family he raised and the children who completed the journey he had begun. Of the many roles Kennedy held, that of father was most dear to him. The tragedies that befell his family marked his final years with unspeakable suffering.

The Patriarch looks beyond the popularly held portrait of Kennedy to answer the many questions about his life, times, and legacy that have continued to haunt the historical record. Was Joseph P. Kennedy an appeaser and isolationist, an anti-Semite and a Nazi sympathizer, a stock swindler, a bootlegger, and a colleague of mobsters? What was the nature of his relationship with his wife, Rose? Why did he have his daughter Rosemary lobotomized? Why did he oppose the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, the Korean War, and American assistance to the French in Vietnam? What was his relationship to J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI? Did he push his second son into politics and then buy his elections for him?

In this pioneering biography, Nasaw draws on never-before-published materials from archives on three continents and interviews with Kennedy family members and friends to tell the life story of a man who participated in the major events of his times: the booms and busts, the Depression and the New Deal, two world wars and a cold war, and the birth of the New Frontier. In studying Kennedy's life, we relive with him the history of the American Century.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Christopher Buckley
…riveting…The Patriarch is a book hard to put down, a garland not lightly bestowed on a cinder block numbering 787 pages of text…Nasaw credibly avers that he has taken forensic pains to excise anything that could not be confirmed by primary sources. I am no historian, but the evidence appears to support his claim. His research is Robert Caro-esque; barely a paragraph is not footnoted. And he is unsparing about his subject's shortcomings, which are numerous…There has been no dearth of books about America's royal family, but this one makes a solid case that the ur-Kennedy was the most fascinating of them all.
The Washington Post - David Greenberg
…engrossing and perceptive…Nasaw delves deep into archives, reconstructing virtually from scratch a multifaceted and ambiguous portrait of a figure who was for decades near the center of power in Hollywood and Washington, finance and diplomacy.
Publishers Weekly
The father of Jack, Bobby, and Teddy (plus six others) was not a bootlegger, nor does any evidence link him to the Mafia, writes Nasaw, refuting two longstanding rumors. But Joseph P. Kennedy (1888–1969) was possibly the worst U.S. ambassador to Great Britain ever, so committed to appeasing Hitler that FDR cut him out of the diplomatic loop. Kennedy won the post because he was one of the few businessmen to support the New Deal, creator of pioneering financial regulations as the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He knew all about manipulating stocks, having parlayed the modest affluence of his father, an East Boston ward heeler, into a fortune in the market. Kennedy was a wonderful father himself, although he and his wife, Rose, led almost completely separate lives. Nasaw (Andrew Carnegie), a history professor at the CUNY Graduate Center, does a fine job of capturing Kennedy’s fiery personality and his eventful, ultimately tragic life, watching Jack rise to the presidency, suffering a stroke but living long enough to see two of his sons assassinated. But the book is much too long and oddly focused; Kennedy’s three-year ambassadorship occupies more than 25% of the text. The reams of fascinating material would have been better served by more careful shaping. Agent: Andrew Wylie, the Wylie Agency. (Nov.)
Pittsburgh Post Gazette
David Nasaw's 'The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy' is the sort of biography that begs to be called 'magisterial.'– Boston Globe
"Mr. Nasaw has the rare ability to see the big picture and frame the detail with careful scholarship -- all the while making room for elements that do not fit -- which in Joe Kennedy's case is quite a lot…. Mr. Nasaw's is a literate and searching exposition of the patriarch's life that offers the reader compelling answers to questions about JPK…. If 'The Patriarch' doesn't scoop up some serious accolades for the writing of American history, the fix is in.
From the Publisher
One of the New York Times's Ten Best Books of the Year
One of Kirkus's Best Nonfiction Books of the Year

*

Riveting…The Patriarch is a book hard to put down…As his son indelibly put it some months before his father was struck down: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your county.’ One wonders what was going through the mind of the patriarch, sitting a few feet away listening to that soaring sentiment as a fourth-generation Kennedy became president of the United States.  After coming to know him over the course of this brilliant, compelling book, the reader might suspect that he was thinking he had done more than enough for his country.  But the gods would demand even more.” – New York Times Book Review

“David Nasaw’s The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy is the sort of biography that begs to be called ‘magisterial.’Boston Globe

“Mr. Nasaw has the rare ability to see the big picture and frame the detail with careful scholarship — all the while making room for elements that do not fit — which in Joe Kennedy's case is quite a lot…. Mr. Nasaw's is a literate and searching exposition of the patriarch's life that offers the reader compelling answers to questions about JPK…. If The Patriarch doesn't scoop up some serious accolades for the writing of American history, the fix is in.” – Pittsburgh Post Gazette
 

Library Journal
Celebrated for his biographies of Andrew Carnegie and William Randolph Hearst, Nasaw takes on Joseph P. Kennedy, businessman, Hollywood mogul, founding chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S. ambassador to Britain, and, of course, father to our 35th President. He had exclusive access to Kennedy's papers and addresses some longstanding questions.
Kirkus Reviews
Sprawling, highly readable biography of the dynast and larger-than-life figure whose presence still haunts American political life. Working from his subject's extensive archives, Nasaw (Andrew Carnegie, 2006, etc.) pieces together a sometimes-sympathetic, sometimes-critical view of Joseph P. Kennedy (1888–1969), father of John F. Kennedy and most definitely a man of parts. Born into wealth, he learned the ropes in the banking business before heading to Hollywood to try his hand at filmmaking. In the last pursuit, he charted only some successes, but he made great use of the perks of the job in bedding starlets, notably Gloria Swanson. Kennedy left Hollywood to return to finance, moving among several palatial homes in Florida, New York and Massachusetts and building a massive fortune thanks to what Nasaw calls "an almost uncanny knack for being in the right stock." His children, including future politicians John, Robert and Edward, grew up surrounded by opulence, though the patriarch took care that they not become spoiled by too much too soon. Yet, by Nasaw's account, when the Depression hit and reduced his fortune along with everyone else's, Kennedy's mood seemed to turn, and he spent the rest of his long life in brooding and contrarian turns, courting plenty of trouble along the way. Accused, as Nasaw notes, of various crimes and moral failings, ranging from bootlegging to anti-Semitism, Kennedy nevertheless instilled in his family a sense of dedication to service and of the necessity of hard work. As he writes, Jack Kennedy recognized that despite the advantages of wealth, he had obstacles to overcome that were at least due in part to his father: "If I were governor of a large state, Protestant and 55," he said, "I could sit back and let it come to me." It did not, and nothing came easy to any of the Kennedys, that tragic clan, who continue to fascinate. Exhaustive yet accessible, Nasaw's book illuminates.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101595916
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/13/2012
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
896
Sales rank:
148,232
File size:
6 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
One of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of 2012
A New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book of 2012
A Booklist Editor's Choice of 2012
One of Newsday's 12 Best Books of the Year

Riveting… The Patriarch is a book hard to put down…As his son indelibly put it some months before his father was struck down: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your county.’ One wonders what was going through the mind of the patriarch, sitting a few feet away listening to that soaring sentiment as a fourth-generation Kennedy became president of the United States.  After coming to know him over the course of this brilliant, compelling book, the reader might suspect that he was thinking he had done more than enough for his country.  But the gods would demand even more.”
—Christopher Buckley, The New York Times Book Review

"Panoramic. Never before has Joseph P. Kennedy's conduct been documented in such damning detail, and never before has the veredict on his character been rendered so persuasively."
Wall Street Journal

"A spellbinding book."
Slate

“David Nasaw’s The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy is the sort of biography that begs to be called ‘magisterial.’"
Boston Globe

"Nasaw was approached to write this biography by Kennedy's children Jean Kennedy Smith and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, who offered unfettered access to previously unseen papers. The choice was brilliant. Having written admired biographies of Andrew Carnegie and William Randolph Hearst, Nasaw understands how titans of business operate. In this outstanding biography, he captures the reality of one of America's most complicated and controversial figures."
USA Today

“Mr. Nasaw has the rare ability to see the big picture and frame the detail with careful scholarship — all the while making room for elements that do not fit — which in Joe Kennedy's case is quite a lot…. Mr. Nasaw's is a literate and searching exposition of the patriarch's life that offers the reader compelling answers to questions about JPK…. If The Patriarch doesn't scoop up some serious accolades for the writing of American history, the fix is in.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

"[A] sprawling, highly readable biography of the dynast and larger-than-life figure whose presence still haunts American political life... Working from his subject’s extensive archives, Nasaw (Andrew Carnegie, 2006, etc.) pieces together a sometimes-sympathetic, sometimes-critical view of Joseph P. Kennedy (1888–1969), father of John F. Kennedy and most definitely a man of parts... Exhaustive yet accessible, Nasaw’s book illuminates."
Kirkus (starred review)

"A major contribution to Kennedy history."
Booklist (starred review)

"Nasaw captures the full humanity of his subject... This is truly a 'definitive' biography."
History Book Club

Meet the Author

DAVID NASAW is the author of Andrew Carnegie, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, awarded the New-York Historical Society Prize in American History, and named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst, winner of the Bancroft Prize for history and the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography. He is the Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Professor of History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

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The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I read the review of "The Patriach" in the New York Times which called it "riveting," and you really can't put it down. It's like watching a TV mini-series, a panorama of American history in the twentieth century, and the role of one man, Joseph Kennedy, in that history. Kennedy was a titanic figure, both good and bad, who founded America's most important political dynasty. He was a brilliant stock manipulator, a movie producer, a lover of many women, including the movie star, Gloria Swanson, and American ambassador to Great Britain leading up to World War II. And along the way, he raised nine children, among them a President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, two Senators, Robert and Edward Kennedy, and Eunice Shriver, who founded the disabilities movement in America. There are some repeated page NUMBERS only, not pages themselves, but Barnes and Noble is apparently fixing this. There is absolutely No text missing at all from the ebook -- the pages do seem to be laid out with white spaces between the sections. Maybe that's what this reviewer meant by missing text.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the definitive biography of Joseph Kennedy, the complex and fascinating founder of the Kennedy dynasty. It is informed by the author's impeccable research and deep knowledge of and engagement with the cultural, social and political currents of American history. Yet it reads like a novel. Though some pages are repeated in the Nook, nothing is missing. All the text is there. In any case, Barnes & Noble is aware of the problem and it will soon be corrected, if it hasn't been already
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A detailed chronicle of one of America's most interesting and controversial figures. Anyone who has a sincere fascination of the Kennedy family must read "The Patriarch." The book is aptly titled and gives "Camelot" a whole new meaning. I had a tough time putting the book down until I read the last page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very good read but I found this lacking and way to pro Kennedy and very hard to totally believe.  This was a truly ruthless man who would stop at nothing to get what he wanted.  The words  puff piece just kept popping into my head as I read on.  Just not in the class of Robert Caro's volumes on Lyndon Johnson.  Final thoughts are once again, a good read but seeming to be lacking.
DeneMD More than 1 year ago
David Nasaw the life of Jodeph Kennedy with his book. Tracing Kennedy's life totally it shows exactly how one man helped to describe the turbulent times of the 20th century with his accomplishments. A must read volume for anyone interested in the subject.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well researched and described in great detail what he did. It seems to lack some context, however. For example, were there other "self made fortunes" being accumulated or produced at the same time as he was genetating his? What were those "investor" like? Was the Kennedy family wealth like the Rockefellers? How did hi treat his employees? Need more detail on the why of his relationship to FDR. It was a good biography but could have been a great one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did'nt want this book to end. Yet, knowing the final outcome, alas,it would have to. Highly recommended to anyone who loves history. Also,if you are interested in historical families of America,the Kennedys belong on that list of "must reads." EXCELLENT! Thank you, David Nasaw
steve2012 More than 1 year ago
As a Kennedy fan who has read many books in regard to the Kennedys' this book was one of the best that I have read. It held my attention and I learned about many aspects of Joseph Kennedy life that I was unaware of. This is well worth the time reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recommend this book to readers who enjoy Kennedy family history. The author clarifies some of the well-known rumors and gossip associated with Joseph Kennedy including the "fact" of his being a bootlegger and the interesting details of his relationship with Gloria Swanson. Well-researched and easy to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Long at almost 1000 pages but excellent bio with the advantage of covering a dynasty which has been integral to the history of US.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well documented biography of a very private individual who certainly knew how to get things done. Despite his political mistakes in supporting keeping the United States out of the II World War the book helps us understand a very complex and generous man who was very loyal to his friends and family and did a great service to the country .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intelligent, well researched. Sheds light on a public figure who has frequently been demonized. Enjoyable and believable.
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Bassist More than 1 year ago
THE BASIC THEME OF DESCRIBING HIS DRIVE TO SUCCEED WAS CLEARLY PASSED ON TO HIS CHILDREN. UNFORTUNATELY SUCCESS DOES NOT ALWAYS BRING SATISFACTION.
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