True Compass: A Memoir

True Compass: A Memoir

by Edward M. Kennedy
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True Compass: A Memoir by Edward M. Kennedy

In this landmark autobiography, five years in the making, Senator Edward M. Kennedy tells his extraordinary personal story—of his legendary family, politics, and fifty years at the center of national events.


The youngest of nine children born to Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, he came of age among siblings from whom much was expected. As a young man, he played a key role in the presidential campaign of his brother John F. Kennedy, recounted here in loving detail. In 1962 he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he began a fascinating political education and became a legislator.

In this historic memoir, Ted Kennedy takes us inside his family, re-creating life with his parents and brothers and explaining their profound impact on him. For the first time, he describes his heartbreak and years of struggle in the wake of their deaths. Through it all, he describes his work in the Senate on the major issues of our time—civil rights, Vietnam, Watergate, the quest for peace in Northern Ireland—and the cause of his life: improved health care for all Americans, a fight influenced by his own experiences in hospitals.

His life has been marked by tragedy and perseverance, a love of family, and an abiding faith. There have been controversies, too, and Kennedy addresses them with unprecedented candor. At midlife, embattled and uncertain if he would ever fall in love again, he met the woman who changed his life, Victoria Reggie Kennedy. Facing a tough reelection campaign against an aggressive challenger named Mitt Romney, Kennedy found a new voice and began one of the great third acts in American politics, sponsoring major legislation, standing up for liberal principles, and making the pivotal endorsement of Barack Obama for president.

Hundreds of books have been written about the Kennedys. TRUE COMPASS will endure as the definitive account from a member of America's most heralded family, an inspiring legacy to readers and to history, and a deeply moving story of a life like no other.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780349123493
Publisher: Abacus Software
Publication date: 02/28/2011

About the Author

Edward M. Kennedy has represented Massachusetts in the United States Senate for forty-seven years. In 2004 he began interviews at the Miller Center of the University of Virginia for an oral history project about his life. Since then, he has drawn from his fifty years of contemporaneous notes from his personal diaries and worked closely on this book with Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Powers, coauthor of Flags of Our Fathers and author of Mark Twain: A Life.

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True Compass 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 350 reviews.
Sebastian_Booker More than 1 year ago
I have always been interested and inspired by the Kennedy family. I was so looking forward to this memoir that I started reading it the day it came out and am now finished. This autobiography is a splendid read. The family stories are truly fascinating, and he wasn't afraid to reveal his own tragic errors. This would be a great book for an adolescent, as it really shows how a young person can overcome problems and succeed. Ted Kennedy lived through so much tragedy and heartbreak. It is how he reacted and endured through these tough times that shows his true character. Those who disagreed with his political positions will likely trash this book. This book is not for them: it's for those who want to know a little bit more about the Kennedys, and a lot more about their youngest son. I'm already knee deep in another book that I recommend wholeheartedly--EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 2.0--I'm learning so much from it!
Marna131 More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating and inspiring book about Ted's life as only he can tell it. It is easy and enjoyable reading, and it feels as though Ted is sitting with you telling his life story, preferably on the porch at his Cape Cod home. History and historical figures come to life in remarkable detail. It is a story of courage and striving to do one's best throughout life. I highly recommend this book.
funreaderJH More than 1 year ago
This book begins with a look at the Kennedy family from the perspective of the much younger brother, which is particularly interesting prior to the President's death. He acknowledges the controversial points in his life and his family's lives, but offers little explanation or detail (the Kennedy mantra of never explain, never complain). His comments about other politicians reveals some interesting things about them and reveals more about himself. Still, it is a revealing look at his goals and his ambitions and makes him more interesting as a person in his own right. The book is well-written, tight, and holds your attention. Well worth the time.
ocs More than 1 year ago
The family has had more than its share of tragedy, and as Rose Kennedy wrote, the wounds do not fully heal but are covered by scar tissue that lessens the pain (page 90). Teddy delivered some great speeches on the passing of his brothers. He quoted from Bobby's comments on their father. Love that is affection, respect and support is an incalculable source of strength. Of Bobby, Teddy wrote that he was to be '.remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it." Pages 271-2. Teddy remembered Jack twenty years after his death as ".an heir to wealth who felt the anguish of the poor. He was an orator of excellence who spoke for the voiceless." Page 400. After the death of John Jr., Teddy told a Senate prayer breakfast that the losses over the years had caused his family, even his devout mother, to cry out to God for His help on their unbelief. The ".hard fact is that God plays no favorites; that we all suffer; that we all die; that, at one point or another, we all shake our fists at God; and that if we are lucky, we all come home to God in the end." Page 479. I am a conservative and have never supported Senator Kennedy. Nevertheless, in view of the liberal result of the last election, I was interested in his viewpoints. My reflection on them did not change how I will vote in the next election. However, the book was well worth my time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've always been an admirer of Ted Kennedy's politics, but I've also been disappointed by his personal failings. Reading the book reminded me in a poignant way that politicians are human, and it gave me even greater admiration for a man who suffered such horrific losses in his life but still chose to use that life to work for the greater good. This book is definitely worth the read, and truly humanizes a man whom, too often, has been unfairly portrayed in a one-dimensional light by his detractors. The book also provides interesting insight on some of the late 20th century's important events, from an insider's perspective.
asleck More than 1 year ago
Ted Kennedy's book is more than politics. It is a remembrance of his very special growing up years, a remembrance of his slain brothers. We are privy to his elitist life. One of privilege that we can not even imagine. But as we know, all of that privilege made him want to help those who were without. So don't worry if you are not a democrat you will still be glad you read it. He is a remarkable man. I never liked him in life or his politics, however, I have great respect for him now. Even if I still don't agree with him.
JAB19 More than 1 year ago
Felt like I was having a conversation with the author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whatever side you are on, this book gives insider information about how the government works, how laws are made and about a family that had significant impact on our national history. The personal story is compelling and gives hope to others in similar situations.
EmmyMS More than 1 year ago
Democrat and Republicans alike will enjoy the inner lining of the Kennedy cloak. THe book is written in almost a folksy style and one which we all can relate. I was intrigued by the feelings and the power and strength of not just Teddy, but the entire family. A book for all ages that will withstand time. So many wonderful lessons to be learned too. Senator Kennedy's honesty was refreshing, and his resiliance was unbelievable. Find a comfortable chair and enjoy!
EWOZ More than 1 year ago
This book was a great read. Looking into the life of one of the greatest Senators who has outlasted tragedy & his own deamons was fantastic. Some parts I found to be winded and boring but those parts are few.
RS96 More than 1 year ago
Ted doesn't take too much credit for his successes and doesn't mention half of the incredible things he did for not only his constituents but other Americans, which makes his memoir so inspiring. He brings together small stories and accounts from his life to show how in the face of tragedy and his own personal shortcomings, he has an amazing resolve to stay the course and follow what he refers to as his 'true compass'. This is a great and quick read by the last of the Kennedy brothers. The little stories he recalls of meetings with presidents and battles over policy allow you to see some of the true nature of politics - however fascinating and sometimes disturbing in raw tidbits of recollection. I recommend it to anyone curious about how people like Ted Kennedy become powerful and valued. A great family man and amazing senator. Thanks Teddy!
fred5962 More than 1 year ago
Ted wrote this book knowing that he was dying. His insights into himself and other people felt like he was looking back from the grave. Very powerful and moving.
Sun_shine_572 More than 1 year ago
This book was a really open account of Ted Kennedy's life, seen from his own perspective. From chapter 1, he surprised me with the open account of his childhood and family, and continues to do so, little by little, chapter by chapter. At the end, you feel like you know and understand the man, and wish you knew him in person. He isn't trying to paint a pretty picture or wash away the imperfections and mistakes - he acknowledges the good and the bad, and becomes someone you can relate to, almost like a friend you trust, not someone you expect perfection from. Great memoir, great lessons in humanity regardless of your political orientation.
BostonTower More than 1 year ago
Whether you like the Kennedy's or not, this was a very interesting account of Ted's life. Seems like he had a great ride over all and in this book he shares it with every one. When I was done with the 400+ pages, I could not believe it was over. Recommend very highly!
SamanthaJR More than 1 year ago
This book is thought provoking and amazing. The reader will be amazed at all that Ted Kennedy had achieved (legislation, etc.). He was very quiet about all his accomplishments - and it's sad to learn all of this after his passing. The pain he endured with having two brothers murdered comes through in his own words. He was a top notch legislator for the people - we may never have another like him. Everyone should read this book - especially if you are not a fan - because once you realize all the good he did - your view will change.
DMBSW61380 More than 1 year ago
For such access to an unbelievable amount of history, I was dissapointed with what was offered on many of the defining moments of our time that Senator Kennedy was upfront and center for. Despite feeling bad saying that about a deceased man whom I've always had a lot of respect for. Preseident Kennedy and Robert Kennedy's Assassination's, MLK's assassanation, Chapaquidak (sorry on spelling), Presidential Runs, etc. All of the accounts of these events offered very little information that was not already considered common knowledge. JFK's assassanation may have been the defining moment / turning point of our country and it barely got ten pages in this lenghty book. I was expecting much more and was left wanting more insight from someone who, sadly, cannot offer anymore.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Written for anyone to read and know that the events are verifiable. A wonderful insight into the dynamics of the Kennedy family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a page turning story of a great man. One of battles won and battles lost. A very inspiring book.
DarkRosaleen More than 1 year ago
This is a very touching portrait of Ted Kennedy's love for his family. In the interest of full disclosure let me say that, despite his personal failings (which we all have), I greatly admired Teddy, and in fact, the whole Kennedy family. No other family has given as much to this country. This book is an interesting look into the personal lives of the original Kennedy family from the point of view of the baby brother, as well as a record of Sen. Kennedy's Senate battles on behalf of the poor and voiceless. The only thing I would question is his assertion that not only he but also Bobby accepted the Warren Commission's report on the assasination of President Kennedy as valid. That contradicts every other book I have read lately on the subject. However, that aside, this is simply a great read about the most fascinating family in modern American political history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first heard about Edward Kennedy's book, True Compass,on the Larry King Show when Mr. King interviewed two of Sen. Kennedy's sons. Mr. King said that it was a book that once you started reading it, it would be hard to lay down until you had completely read it. I must agree with Mr. King. To my surprise, the book was well written and showed a side of Sen. Kennedy as a family man who loved his family. The interaction of Sen. Kennedy and his brothers shows a bond that was only broken when they died one by one. In the years after his parents and brothers died, he bacame the caretaker, spokesman and patriarch of the Kennedy family, something he did with compassion and integrity. Sen. Kennedy writes of his life from birth to just before he died: his boyhood, being the youngest Kennedy, interactions with the members of his family, a political career, ect. I highly recomment this book, True Compass by Edward Kennedy.
theReaderAA More than 1 year ago
True Compass is a very well written momoir from one of the most respected legislators in senste history. over the years i have read a number of books about the Kennedys but i never got an accuareate picture of what their family was really like. until now, and i have come to learn that joe and rose kennedy were nothong like what alot of historians tell us they were like. most biographers paint joe out to be an arrogant "prick" and rose out to ba a self centered "biyatch". but the truth is they were loving and compassionate parents. they had to have been, i mean they raised a very prestigious family. this book is filled with stories you will not find anywhere else. and the research is fantastic. ted kennedy lived a fascinating life and had the pleasure of working along side his own big brothers and other great leaders, such as martin luther king jr. he truly lived a remarkable life.
jessie2 More than 1 year ago
Even though we all know the stories, most of them heartbreakingly sad, it is incredibly interesting to hear ir from Ted Kennedy himself. He does not gloss over Chappaquiddick or other faults in his life, but reading this book you will know that Senator Kennedy was a brilliant, upstanding human being who took care when he needed to and took responsibilty for his flaws. God Bless you Ted Kennedy!
NanookDT More than 1 year ago
I didn't know what to expect when I bought this book. I was pleasantly surprised to read so much detail about the early years. There has been so much written about the accident, the assassinations, but not much from the childhood years. I enjoyed his reflection on growing up the younger brother of Jack and Bobby. His memories of the time spent with them as a child and what they taught him was insightful. Equally interesting was his recollections of time spent with his grandfather and his father. I think if you are looking for a more personal story of Ted and his family you would enjoy this book.
Downunder-reader More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading Teddy Kennedy's autobiography very much. As an Australian, I have often found the US political system rather perplexing. But I have always noted the main players, and Teddy gives an account of the contemporary ones that most of my generation have live with (60's baby): Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, The Bushes, and now Obama. His insight into the Vietnam War is of great interest, but of greater effect is his telling of family. I wanted to read what Teddy thought of the assassinations of his brothers, and how he and his family dealt with the tragedy. His and his family's unwavering faith in the light of such terrible events is inspiring. Also, it was of great interest to read Teddy's account of Chappaquiddich (spelling?) No matter his sins, after reading his testimony you can't help but want to accept Teddy as a man who meant well and a man who tried very hard to improve the health and education services in his country. I highly recommend my friend Teddy's autobiography.
hewcin More than 1 year ago
This book is a great read. If you admired Teddy Kennedy, you will love his autobiography. This book is very well-written, for an average reader. There are many things that he writes about that I did not know about him. I am a life-long Republican, but he crossed both sides of teh aisle.