True Compass [With Headphones]

True Compass [With Headphones]


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Edward M. Kennedy is widely regarded as one of the great Senators in the nation's history. He is also the patriarch of America's most heralded family. In this landmark autobiography, five years in the making, Senator Kennedy speaks with unprecedented candor about his extraordinary life.

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. In 1962, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he learned how to become an effective legislator.

His life has been marked by tragedy and perseverance, a love for family and an abiding faith. He writes movingly of his brothers and their influence on him; his years of struggle in the wake of their deaths; his marriage to the woman who changed his life, Victoria Reggie Kennedy; his role in the major events of our time (from the civil rights movement to the election of Barack Obama); and how his recent diagnosis of a malignant brain tumor has given even greater urgency to his long crusade for improved health care for all Americans.

Written with warmth, wit, and grace, True Compass is Edward M. Kennedy's inspiring legacy to readers and to history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607883913
Publisher: Findaway World
Publication date: 10/28/2009
Series: Playaway Adult Nonfiction Series
Product dimensions: 5.74(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.22(d)

About the Author

Edward M. Kennedy has represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate for 47 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 worked closely on this book with Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Powers, co-author of the #1 bestseller Flags of Our Fathers and author of Mark Twain: A Life, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Read an Excerpt

The Torch

It was on the sunny spring day of Tuesday, May 20, 2008, that I emerged from a medicated drowsiness in a Boston hospital bed and looked up into the face of a doctor who explained to me in a somber way that I was about to die, and that I had best begin getting my affairs in order and preparing my friends and family for the end.

As I lay in that hospital bed, my friends and neighbors on Cape Cod were just then getting their boats ready for the summer cruises and races. I intended to be among them, as usual. The Boston Red Sox were a good bet to defend their world championship. There was a presidential primary campaign in progress. My Senate colleagues were pushing forward on our legislative agenda. I had work to do.

No. As much as I respect the medical profession, my demise did not fit into my plans.

I was hardly "in denial" that I faced a grave and shocking threat to my life. The first symptoms of what would prove to be a malignant brain tumor had struck me three days earlier. They'd descended on me as I padded toward the kitchen of the Hyannis Port house that has been the center of my life and happiness for most of my seventy-six years. I was intent on nothing more than taking Sunny and Splash, my much-loved Portuguese water dogs, for their morning walk. My wife, Vicki, and I had just been chatting and having our morning coffee in the sunroom.

Life seemed especially good at that moment. The sixteen years of my marriage to Vicki had been good ones. Her acute understanding and love of me had made her my indispensable partner in my life. We shared countless joyful hours aboard my antique wooden schooner Mya, including nights of sailing along the coast, guided by the stars. Vicki had given me such a sense of stability and tranquillity that I had almost begun to think of life in those terms-stable and tranquil. But never boring. Certainly not with this funny, passionate, fiercely loyal, and loving woman.

Vicki and I had enjoyed an especially exhilarating winter and early spring. On January 27, thrilled and inspired by Barack Obama and the hope he embodied, I took the podium at American University in Washington to endorse his quest for the presidency. The best hopes of the past and present converged around me. My niece Caroline Kennedy stood at my back, alongside my own son Patrick and the candidate himself. The crowd roared its approval for my message. And I felt myself lifted-with a renewed optimism for my country, and by the unexpected notes of an old bugle, calling me once again to the campaign trail. Other years, other hustings, other adventures swept out of the past. "It is time again for a new generation of leadership," I declared to the cheering crowd in front of us, as another voice echoed down the corridors of my memory: Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans . . .

I felt joyous and exuberant through the inevitable exhaustion of the Democratic primary campaign, as I had felt in Wyoming and West Virginia in 1960 for Jack, and in Indiana and California in 1968 for Bobby. "No one said we couldn't have a little fun!" I shouted to a Latino crowd in San Antonio before belting out "Ay Jalisco No Te Rajes" in my version of Spanish. I had so much fun that I sang it again in Laredo. By mid-May, Obama had won the crucial North Carolina primary and had taken the lead in committed delegates. Some commentators were declaring the race already over. I certainly intended to keep on campaigning for him through the late spring and summer, but there was time to steal away for a few sails on Nantucket Sound.

On May 16 I took part in a ceremony at a favorite historic site of mine, the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, where I joined Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank and others to cut the ribbon at the Corson Maritime Learning Center. Barney and I had secured appropriations for repairs and other improvements to the building after it was damaged in a 1997 fire. I felt especially good that day, and threw away my prepared remarks to speak from my heart about my love for New Bedford, and the sea, and for the connection to our history that the park represented. Vicki told me afterward that Barbara Souliotis, our dear friend and the longtime chief of staff of my Boston office, who was sitting beside her, turned and whis-pered, "He's really on today!" I certainly felt "on." Change was in the air. And tomorrow, Vicki and I would enjoy our first sail of the year. But that next morning, everything changed.

I had just meandered through the living room and had come within two steps of the grand piano that my mother, Rose, used to play for the family more than half a century ago as we gathered for dinner. Sometimes Jack, young and thin in his customary rumpled pullover, would stand at about the spot where I passed just then, and sing a solo to Mother's accompaniment.

Suddenly I felt disoriented. I moved toward the door leading to the porch, where several spacious chairs face the lovely prospect that I've known since childhood: a view to Nantucket Sound and the several masted boats at anchor in the nearby harbor. "Well," I told myself, "I'll just go outside and get some fresh air."

I didn't make it outside. Everything seemed hazy. I walked past the front door and into the dining room, where I lowered myself into a chair. That's the last thing I remember until I awoke in the hospital.

I learned later that I'd been discovered almost at once by Judy Campbell, our household assistant. Judy called out for Vicki, who was still in the sunroom, waiting for me to return. When Vicki saw me, she ran to my side and instructed Judy to call 911, and then my physician in Boston, Dr. Larry Ronan. As she waited for the local rescue team to arrive, Vicki wedged herself into the chair beside me and cradled my head. I was not aware of it then, but she held me tenderly, kissing my cheek and patting me and whispering, "You're going to be okay."

It took just four minutes for the first responder to arrive. He was a Hyannis police officer who told Vicki, "I was an army medic," to which my wife blurted, "Oh, thank God! Come in!" The paramedics arrived about half a minute later. No one knew how to diagnose me. They suspected a stroke. They prepared me for transportation-this took some time-and took me to the Cape Cod Hospital, where I was deeply sedated while they performed initial tests. Vicki was in constant contact with my doctors in Boston, who were in turn in contact with the Cape Cod team. The Boston doctors dispatched a medevac helicopter to transport me to Massachusetts General Hospital. In fairly short order, I was airlifted to the hospital in Boston. Vicki, meanwhile, continued to focus on the necessary tasks. Sitting in the car while I was being readied, before we even left home, she phoned as many members of our combined families as she could reach. "The second I called 911," she explained to me later, "I knew that this was going to be on the news, and I didn't want everyone close to us to find out that way." To every family member who asked Vicki, "Should we come?" she replied, "Yes. Yes. You've got to come." Then, as the chopper hurtled through the air on its half-hour flight to the hospital, Vicki hitched a ride there with the Hyannis fire chief, Harold Brunelle, who is a good friend of ours. She continued calling family members all the way to Boston.

I came out of sedation in the late afternoon. It took me a while to realize where I was; I had no memory of anything after sitting down in my dining room in Hyannis Port. It soon became clear I was in a hospital room, and I was happy to see Vicki's large hazel eyes studying me with obvious love and anxiety. The immediate cause of my collapse had been a generalized seizure brought on by the deeper affliction. Every muscle in my body had contracted severely, and I was in extreme pain.

The children poured into the room that evening. I savored their embraces, and we ordered in chowder from Legal Seafood and watched the Red Sox game on TV.

A biopsy the following Monday confirmed that I had a brain tumor-a malignant glioma in my left parietal lobe. Vicki and I privately were told that the prognosis was bleak-a few months at most.

I respect the seriousness of death-I've had many occasions to meditate on its intrusions. But I wasn't willing to accept the doctor's prognosis for two reasons.

The first was my own obstinate will to carry on in the face of adversity, one of the many habits of discipline that my father instilled in me and all of my brothers and sisters. We were taught never to give up, never to passively accept fate, but to exhaust every last ounce of will and hope in the face of any challenge. This was almost certainly the teaching that led our eldest brother, Joe Jr., to volunteer for a highly dangerous flying assignment near the end of World War II, one that in fact cost him his life. It fueled Jack's determination to stay alive as he floated in the Pacific after his patrol torpedo boat was rammed and sunk by the Japanese. And I am convinced that it accounted for the life force and cheerful resolve of our beloved sister Rosemary, who pursued laughter, games, travel, and so-cial affairs well after it became clear that nature had placed se-vere limits on her intellectual capacity.

The second was the way the message was delivered. Frankly, it made me furious. I am a realist, and I have heard bad news in my life. I don't expect or need to be treated with kid gloves. But I do believe in hope. And I believe that ap-proaching adversity with a positive attitude at least gives you a chance for success. Approaching it with a defeatist attitude predestines the outcome: defeat. And a defeatist's attitude is just not in my DNA. Anyway, I'd heard this brand of doom speak before. As hard as it was to hear the news about my own illness, it was nothing compared to the body blows I'd suffered when two of my children had been diagnosed with particularly lethal forms of cancer. When Teddy Jr., then twelve, discovered the lump below his knee that turned out to be bone cancer back in 1973, our doctors warned us that very few people survived this form of the disease. We were determined that Teddy would be an exception. His leg had to be amputated and he endured two years of the most painful, taxing medication and therapy. But as I write this, Teddy is a happily married forty-seven-year old businessman and lawyer, and the father of two beautiful children. And then in 2002 my daughter Kara was diagnosed with "inoperable" lung cancer. She faced slim odds of survival, the doctor told us. As with Teddy, the family refused to accept this prognosis. We were told that every doctor we would consult would say the same thing, and I recall saying, "Fine. I just want to hear every one of them say it." But when I brought together a group of experts in the kind of cancer Kara had, they didn't all say the same thing. She did have an operation and aggressive chemotherapy and radiation. My wife, or I, or both of us, accompanied her to her chemotherapy treatments. I prayed for Kara, as I had for Teddy Jr., and frequently attended daily mass. Kara responded to my exhortations to have faith in herself. Today, nearly seven years later as I write this, Kara is a healthy, vibrant, active mother of two who is flourishing. And so, fortified with experience and our faith, Vicki and I decided once again to fight. I would live on for as long as I could. And in electing to live on, I would offer myself as an example to those struggling with the unacceptable news that there is no hope. Vicki and I began to develop a plan of action. "Let's just take it one step at a time," we told one another.

The first step was to sail. Sailing, for me, has always been a metaphor for life. But on Wednesday, May 22, the day I left Massachusetts General, as Vicki, the dogs, and I stepped aboard Mya, docked and waiting for us at the pier in Hyannis Port, our sail was more than a metaphor: it was an affirmation of life. Mya cut smartly through the sparkling waters of Nan-tucket Sound under a brisk wind-the same waters on which Jack had taught me to sail more than sixty-five years earlier. Everything seemed back to normal, except for the crowd of cameramen and reporters who awaited us onshore.

The culminating event of my hiatus on the Cape was the annual Figawi regatta on Memorial Day. In this spectacular season-opening race, some three thousand sailors in two-hundred-odd boats of all sizes compete in various divisions in a race from Hyannis to Nantucket and then, two days later, back again. Vicki and I, Teddy Jr. and his wife, Kiki, and our usual crew of good friends had won our division on the race back from Nantucket to Hyannis the previous year. I'd itched for the chance to defend my title, even after the symptoms struck; but my wise first mate was understandably hesitant. But when the weather report predicted clear skies and a strong southwest breeze for the almost due north race course back from Nantucket to Hyannis-perfect conditions for a schooner like Mya-Vicki smiled at me and said, "Let's do it." It was a glorious day. For the sake of the historical record, I will note that Mya fin-ished second, with a crew that included Vicki, daughter Caroline, daughter-in-law Kiki, sons Teddy Jr. and Patrick, and our old friend Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut.

While we were sailing and digesting the news, we had asked our dear friend Dr. Larry Horowitz to line up a team of doctors to consult with us. Larry Horowitz is a Yale Medical School graduate and my former chief of staff, who had also served as staff director of my Senate subcommittee on health in the late 1970s. Larry immediately tapped into his vast net-work of contacts, and began feeding us advice on doctors as well as state-of-the-art medical centers. He brought them all together for a meeting in Boston.

I welcomed the doctors who had assembled from around the country to advise us. "I want to thank you all for coming," I told them. "I want to approach this in a way that makes sense. I want to be prudently aggressive. And I want this process to be helpful to others. If I can show that there is hope for me, perhaps I can give hope to all those who face this kind of disease. I want to do that. I want to give people hope." By the end of the meeting, we had decided on a plan for surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Unlike some cancers, mine would be treated like a chronic disease, requiring continued treatment after the initial phase that Vicki referred to as "shock and awe."

We headed to Duke Medical Center in Durham, North Caro-lina, for surgery a couple of days later. Vicki recalls that I was on the phone nearly the entire trip, asking my Senate colleagues on the committee I chaired to help shepherd through some particular pieces of legislation that were important to me. I asked Barbara Mikulski, the able senior senator from Maryland, to take the lead on the higher education bill. To Chris Dodd I turned over the work on mental health parity. I conferred with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on some of the issues that we were working on with the House. I didn't want to leave unfinished work on the table. My personal affairs were in order, and I suffered neither dread nor anxiety. I intended to beat this thing for as long as I could. But it didn't hurt to have all my bases covered, just in case.

The surgery accomplished everything the doctors had hoped. And as Vicki and I headed happily home to Hyannis Port a week later, we began planning our steps toward a secret goal that she and I had agreed upon the very day we committed to the surgery: if everything went as expected, we would travel to the Democratic National Convention in Denver and I would address the delegates.

Being able to speak at the Democratic convention in August, as I had done at so many conventions past, became my mission and stayed in the forefront of my mind during my radiation and chemotherapy treatments that summer, as Vicki and I made the round trip by car from Hyannis Port to Boston five days a week for six weeks. The timetable was in our favor: radiation would end in July, and we'd been told that I could expect to regain much of my energy after that. The convention was to be at the end of August. It made for an ideal goal. I have always been a person who schedules his time, and I always try to be on time. Having open-ended free time makes me restless. I suppose you could say that preparing for the convention was also part of my recuperation that summer.

And so I embarked on a summer of rehabilitation, sailing, and planning to rejoin my fellow Democrats at the moment of their great celebration. I sailed nearly every day. Teddy Jr. delighted me by setting up his office in Jack's old house, nearly next door to us, and moving in along with Kiki and their children, Kiley and Teddy III. Kara and her two children, Grace and Max, also spent most of the summer on the Cape. Patrick was there a lot, as much as the congressional schedule allowed. Curran Raclin, Vicki's son and my stepson whom I had helped raise since he was nine, was working in Boston and often just drove down for dinner. Caroline Raclin, the newly minted Wesleyan graduate, was a frequent visitor. My sister Jean even rented a house in Hyannis Port for a while. And of course Eunice and Ethel and lots of nieces and nephews were already there. I decided that I was finally going to indulge my passion for Four Seas, the legendary ice cream that is freshly made on Cape Cod only in the summer. I may be the only patient in the history of Massachusetts General who went through both chemotherapy and radiation and gained weight!

I soon began work on my convention speech, asking my longtime friend and old speechwriter Bob Shrum to come talk to Vicki and me. I knew essentially what I wanted to say at the outset, and Bob and Vicki and I have a synergistic way of working together.

As the summer lengthened, I felt my strength returning, just as the doctors had predicted. Still, there was no medical guarantee that I'd be able to follow through on my hope. We decided to keep this project a secret, but of course speculation eventually mounted that I might attend the convention.

We flew to Denver on Sunday, August 24, the day before the convention opened, in a chartered jet. With us were my internist Larry Ronan and some close friends and family members. Inside the private apartment in Denver that we had rented, my aides and I began a run-through of my speech on a teleprompter. After a minute or two I held up my hand. "You know, I really don't feel well," I said. I felt a sharp pain in my side and we didn't know what it was. I was taken to a hospital, where I was surrounded by three doctors, all of them, coincidentally, named Larry, which would have been funny if I hadn't been in so much pain.

Unbelievably, after making it through brain surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy and meeting my goal of being ready and able to address the delegates in Denver, I had been struck, out of the blue and for the first time in my life, with a kidney stone. As the doctors prepared to administer a very powerful pain medication, my wife, who is usually unflappable in a crisis, burst into tears. "If you give him pain medicine, then you will have made the decision for him about speaking tonight. You can't take away his ability to make this decision for himself. He's worked too hard for this night." After doing a back-of-the-envelope calculation on how long the medication would stay in my bloodstream, the doctors assured her that it would be out of my system in time for me to speak, though, as they later told us, they did not think I would be feeling up to speaking in any event. Now doctors from all over Denver had begun to descend on my room, Larrys and non-Larrys alike. A neurologist arrived, and a urologist, and several other -ologists. I welcomed them all, of course; but Vicki's preoccupation (and mine) was not diagnosis, it was the danger of overmedication and overpowering sleep well past my schedule for appearing at the Pepsi Center.

We were not vigilant enough. A nurse gave me more pain medication when no one was looking. The doctor had not yet changed the orders in the chart to reflect our private conversations. Vicki, shall we say, remonstrated with her. Yet there it was, the sleep-inducing drug, coursing anew through my system. How long before it would lift? "What do you think?" I asked Vicki drowsily.

"You can just go out and wave," she replied. "Just go out there with the family and wave."

But I had not come all the way to Denver just to wave. We worked on a compromise: Shrum cut my prepared remarks down to about four lines, in case my deep drowsiness persisted. Then, assuming the best-which by now was not as good as I'd hoped-he cut the original in half. That would be the version I would give if I was strong and awake enough to speak at any length at all.

The convention's opening gavel was scheduled for 6 p.m. At around 4:30, I awoke and told Vicki, "I probably ought to get up now and see if I can walk and not fall flat on my face." I made it from my bed to the end of the room. "I think I'll go back to sleep now," I said. I didn't sleep long. We would have to leave for the center no later than 6:30 if we had any hope of being on time. I had not had the chance to rehearse my remarks on the teleprompter and had not seen the text in two days. Nor would I again until I spoke it. We showered and dressed at the hospital. Someone was combing my hair as the aides stared at their wristwatches; someone else was wrapping my hand in an Ace bandage, to conceal the intravenous line still implanted there. Larry Horowitz was on the phone with the Pepsi Center. They needed to know which version of the speech if any to put in the teleprompter. I said the original one that I had rehearsed at the Cape, but Vicki and Larry persuaded me that Shrum's abbreviated version was probably a better idea.

"Let's go," I said. The three Larrys-Ronan, Horowitz, and Larry Allen, a wonderful young doctor we had met when I had surgery at Duke who had coincidentally moved to Denver-escorted us to a waiting van. Vicki and I sat in the middle seats, between the driver and the doctors. We sped off toward a convention hall I'd never been in, and a stage whose contours I did not know, to give a version of a speech that I had never seen. Even the full speech had become the stuff of distant memory.

I can handle this, I kept telling myself. I can handle this.

My niece Caroline Kennedy gave a beautiful and heart-warming introduction. After a spectacular film produced by Mark Herzog and Ken Burns, we heard the announcer's voice: "Ladies and gentlemen, Senator Edward Kennedy." This was it. Showtime.

My wife walked with me out onstage and to the podium, held my face, and kissed me. And then she went to sit with the rest of our family. I could feel myself start to settle down.

And so on Monday evening, August 25, 2008, I fulfilled my personal dream that would never die. "It is so wonderful to be here," I declared to the cheering delegates. "Nothing, nothing was going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight."

I acknowledged the friends and family members in the hall: the people who had stood with me through the successes and setbacks, the victories and defeats, over the decades. I then made a vow that I would be on the floor of the United States Senate in January 2009 to continue the cause of my life-affordable health care as a fundamental right.

"There is a new wave of change all around us, and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination-not merely victory for our party, but renewal for our nation."

As I approached my conclusion, the final phrases of my speech demanded a high note-a bugle call. They were a conjoining of John F. Kennedy's words and my own. I took a breath and gathered my strength, as Jack's words and mine converged:

"And this November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans.

"And so with Barack Obama-for you and for me, for our country and for our cause-the work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on."

It is that passing of the torch and that living dream that have inspired me to write this memoir. For several years, long before the prospects for my longevity had abruptly come into question, I had been building an archive of my memories, both personal and political, through an oral history project at the University of Virginia. I also had more than fifty years of personal notes and diaries that I kept. I'd supposed that they would be useful in an account of my life. As I grappled with the dire implications of my illness, I realized that my own life has always been inseparable from that of my family.When I sit at the front porch of our Cape house, in the sunshine and sea-freshened air, I think of them often: my parents and my brothers and sisters, all departed now save for Jean and myself. And each alive and vibrant in my memory. I remember how each of us, distinct and autonomous from one another though we were, melded wholeheartedly into a family, a self-contained universe of love and deepest truths that could not be comprehended by the outside world.

My story is their story, and theirs is mine. And so it shall be in these pages.

From the book True Compass: A Memoir Copyright (c) 2009 by Edward M. Kennedy. Reprinted by permission of Twelve Books/Hachette Book Group, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

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True Compass 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 368 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.