The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy
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.
temporary hiatus from Washington, Kennedy sent bottles of Haig & Haig’s best Scotch to the president for Christmas and stayed in close contact with the Roosevelt children and with Missy LeHand, the president’s secretary since 1920, who now lived in the White House and, when Eleanor was absent, acted as presidential hostess. He called Missy regularly, got her brother Bernard a job with Somerset, and invited her to make use of the Palm Beach house, which she did on several occasions.17 In
information gathered by British intelligence. — It was customary for the newly arrived American ambassador to introduce himself to his British hosts with a speech at the Pilgrims Society. A month before sailing for London, Kennedy had hired Harold Hinton, a former New York Times reporter on foreign affairs, as his speechwriter and asked him, with Krock and a few others, to begin assembling ideas for his address. He continued to work on the speech after arriving in London and forwarded a
being allowed to remain in Florida after the Christmas holidays. He was enrolled in a local Palm Beach elementary school for three months until Easter. Then, with the “season” at an end and his parents heading north, his mother arranged for him to attend Priory with his brother Bob. “I entered the seventh grade at Portsmouth Priory in the spring of 1941,” Ted wrote later in his memoirs, “when I was barely nine years old, boarding and competing with boys who were four years older than me. It was a
NATO, and recent congressional appropriations for military assistance overseas. What, he asked, had these billions of dollars accomplished? Nothing. The Truman policy was “suicidal” and “politically and morally” bankrupt. Kennedy called for a complete about-face. He challenged every central tenet of the Cold War consensus: that the Soviets were ideologically and politically committed to expanding their empire; that Moscow controlled Communist parties and regimes everywhere and always would; that
fact that nothing in the world seems to be right these days may be the result, for some of us, of having lost those who were near and dear to us. When that kind of love goes out of one’s life it is very difficult to replace it with anything else, and it is almost impossible to see with any degree of reasonableness all the good things that are left.”15 — Approaching his middle sixties, Joseph P. Kennedy lived a strangely bifurcated life, swinging back and forth between what Reston had