True Compass: Edward M. Kennedy -Book Review

Excellent book.  One of those rare ones for me where I look forward to reading it everyday, and also dread hitting the last page.  I am not a big reader, but when a book grabs hold, I am hooked.  And biographies/autobiographies are the ones that always tend to catch me.  And for this one to grab hold, was not at all surprising.  For whatever unoriginal reason, I have always been a big fan on books about the Kennedys. 

What first drew me into this Irish clan of womanizing ‘heroes’ was famed historian Arthur Schlesinger’s biography on John F. Kennedy.  Schlesinger was a personal friend of JFK and also later an openly gay man.  *One can imagine the number of ’happy tissues’ (ibid Forgetting Sarah Marshall) good old Arty must have used up over the years.  And perhaps based on this love for the Kennedys, his biographies of Jack and Bobby were no less than glowing despite whatever flaws they may have had. 

So initially I was drawn to stories of Jack’s charisma, charm, and larger than life attitude in growing up.  Much like a 19-year-old being drawn to the affability of Ferris Beuler.  Wishing to be that cool as well.  Other books such as Reckless Youth by Nigel Hamilton, basically (and probably inaccurately) painted his childhood and adolescence with such color that I found myself hooked for more stories.

However, it was Arthur Schlesinger’s bio on Robert Kennedy that I feel actually changed me for the better, to whatever degree.  Whether his account was too romanticized or not, I was so moved and drawn by this man’s call for social justice and his absolute distase for intolerance, small-mindedness, and bigotry.  He was also known as being a bit introverted and prickly to those who didn’t know him all that well (especially in  his early years) and as much as I would have liked to have identified with the magical qualities of a Jack, I found myself identifying with the portrayal of Robert. 

Anyways, over the years I probably read six or seven books on these guys, including (amazingly) one on Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy.  She was nearest to Jack’s age and had a bigger than life attitude about her as well.  She tragically died as well at an early age due to a plane crash following WWII.  But I never did read anything on Ted.  Perhaps I was less interested because he was just a little turd when Jack and Bobby where relevant. 

Regardless, I got my hands on this book and as I said, I loved it.  Ted told his story in an warm and flowing way and I loved not only to hear his views on his brothers and his infamous father, but also his love for sailing, the senate, and his wife. 

Sad to have hit the last page.

BN


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