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Counselor LP: A Life at the Edge of History Paperback – Bargain Price, July 22, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: HarperLuxe (July 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061562742
  • ASIN: B003F76FHM
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,344,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. SignatureReviewed by Michael BeschlossIn this modest, elegant, appealing and introspective autobiography, Ted Sorensen writes about his service to John Kennedy as senator and president with a candor that, he confesses, would have been inconceivable while writing his glowing 1965 reminiscence, Kennedy, or while Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was alive. The Nebraska-born Sorensen describes himself as a moralist not unlike his Unitarian father, C.A. Sorensen, a onetime state attorney general (and a Republican). He reproaches himself for still feeling shame and stigma about the emotional illnesses of his Russian-Jewish mother, Annis Chaikin Sorensen, and for his two divorces, which will make him feel embarrassed until my dying day.Sorensen does not spare the man who remains his old hero. He declines to defend or rationalize JFK's carefree misconduct and broken marriage vows, writing, It was wrong, and he knew it was wrong. He criticizes Kennedy's failure while a senator in 1954 to help censure the Wisconsin demagogue Joseph McCarthy. Unlike some of Kennedy's most extreme defenders, he does not insist that JFK would have withdrawn American troops from Vietnam after reelection in 1964. Excluded from Kennedy's glittering social life, Sorensen recalls the president's cool crowd regarded him with thinly veiled patronizing. New sidelights include Jackie's later private observation that her husband was truly frightened that Lyndon Johnson might someday become president. Sorensen knows that history will view him mainly as architect of much of Kennedy's enduring rhetoric—and the collaborator (at least) on JFK's famous 1956 book, Profiles in Courage. Such prominence unsettled the Kennedys, who wanted JFK's speeches and writings to be taken as his own. Sorensen reveals that after the commercial success of Profiles, Kennedy privately gave him a large share of the book's substantial royalties, and Sorensen wrote his boss a letter pledging not to push for recognition of my participation in its writing. The faithful Sorensen felt crushed in 1987 when Jackie Onassis wrote him an angry letter implying (unfairly) that Sorensen might be ambitious to seize credit for her husband's speeches. Sorensen says he never knew how much his old frostiness and protectiveness of his relationship with JFK estranged some colleagues. Blessed with a happy third marriage, he has clearly mellowed. But for Sorensen, as this book demonstrates, the 45 years since JFK's assassination—including an important New York legal career, a role advising Robert Kennedy during his presidential race, efforts to win the late Bobby's Senate seat and an aborted nomination to head Jimmy Carter's CIA—have been epilogue. As Sorensen painfully observes, when the Kennedy brothers died, it robbed me of my future. 16 pages of b&w photos. (May)Michael Beschloss is the author, most recently, of Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789–1989, just published by Simon & Schuster in paperback.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“This is an important book, and it’s also a poignant one. As Jackie Kennedy once said of a speech that Ted Sorensen gave about her husband, it captures not only the soul of John Kennedy but also the soul of Sorensen. This clear-eyed but loving memoir is fascinating.” (Walter Isaacson )

“Ted Sorensen’s Counselor is that rare gift to history: an account of mighty events by a participant who stood at their heart, and a writer masterful enough to make us understand them as well.” (Robert Caro )

“Ted Sorensen’s words inspired a generation, and his counsel and judgment helped steer our nation through some of its most difficult hours. This gripping, candid memoir illuminates a revered era in American history. Sorensen has written a book that will be cherished for generations.” (Barack Obama )

“Ted Sorensen has given us a very welcome up close and personal view of life and politics at the side of John F. Kennedy. There are fresh insights and enduring lessons for this and future generations to study and embrace. And painful memories of what we lost.” (Tom Brokaw )

“With eloquence and honesty, Sorensen takes us on a tour of many of the most important moments of the second half of the American Century, from who wrote ‘Profiles in Courage’ to the Cuban Missile Crisis to Dallas and its terrible aftermath. This is an illuminating and engaging book.” (Jon Meacham )

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Customer Reviews

I well remember the Cuban Crisis and Ted Sorensen.
A great read for history buffs and general interest readers alike.
Paul Tognetti
Substantive ideas are the most important part of any speech.
Ian D. Griffin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

118 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Pranay Gupte on May 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I know Ted Sorensen well, so what I have to say about his extraordinary personal history is obviously being written as a friend and admirer. As a friend, I can say that Ted speaks truth to power; as an admirer, I can say that he speaks truth forcefully and candidly. He was arguably John Kennedy's alter ego. At the very least, Ted was the man who shaped JFK's lyrical, intellectually vigorous speeches. But Ted was also a canny adviser, the lawyer who marshaled his facts well, made the connections between random thoughts and workable ideas, and produced a consistent body of work for the president he loved and trusted. Ted once told me that not a day goes by without him thinking of JFK -- of the man JFK was, and about what might have been. Like his late friend Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Ted occupied an honored place at the table in Camelot. What his memoir makes plain -- in his own special, witty way -- is how much Ted shaped JFK's Camelot itself.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Scott Billigmeier on May 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed Counselor and especially appreciate the way Mr. Sorensen chose to organize his storytelling in a topical way (e.g., My Perspective of JFK's Personal Life, President Johnson's 1963 Transition, etc.). The author's prose is tight and well turned, as anyone familiar with his writing would expect, but at over 500 pages this is rather like the magnum opus of his life. I have a first edition of his excellent 1965 book on Kennedy but, for the most part, this latest and perhaps final work is much more candid. There are some exceptions such as his very touch and go treatment of Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick. He well describes the consequences of the incident but then takes the opportunity to sing the praises of the younger Kennedy's political skills, calling him "the most relaxed campaigner of the three..."

Mr. Sorensen has lived an interesting life apart from his work with the Kennedys and inclusion of that material is a plus. The space he devotes to it is about right; the book remains primarily focused on his long association with JFK and that is what the typical reader wants and expects. Of particular interest to me was how Kennedy reached out to Republicans -- described in a Chapter called "President Kennedy's Ministry of Talent." I knew it to be true (he appointed my uncle to the federal bench upon the recommendation of then Deputy Attorney General Byron "Whizzer" White) but didn't realize the full scope.

It would be easy to give this book the five stars it probably deserves but I went with four only because, from my perspective, the loyalty muzzle is still a little too evident. While I can come up with a few other petty critiques there is just much too much to like about this book to make that worthwhile. Some readers may disagree with Sorensen's politics but it would be the rare iconoclast who cannot appreciate his insights and wonderful storytelling.
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47 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on May 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The well-written memoirs of a man forever to be identified with John F. Kennedy's political career, especially the White House days. While not telling all, this book is the candid product of a bright, honest, but still politically driven man, a 1960s liberal, who writes in the twilight of his life.

Mr. Sorensen is one of the last living central participants of JFK's Administration and his story would have value for this fact alone. Readers wishing to learn about presidential political campaigning, the art of speech writing, and more on such important historical events as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the presidential transition from JFK to LBJ will profit from reading this book.

While material on his later private law practice is not as interesting as the rest of the text, this is only to be expected. In terms of his post White House career, I did find of value his description of his ill-fated nomination by President Carter as DCI and noted the fact there is little mention of President Clinton's years. (A prominent picture of Senator Obama and Ted Sorensen is in this book. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that the author sees the current junior senator from Illinois as his pick for this year's Democratic Party nominee for president--and the direct and true successor to JFK's legacy.)
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46 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Philip Steele Krone on May 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I know Ted Sorensen through our common support of Barack Obama and was eager to read this magnificent biography. I bought it on Tuesday, May 6 the first day it was published and I didn't put it down ( with the exception of eating, showering and sleeping about four hours each of the last two nights) until a few hours ago when I finished reading it.

It is a magnificent opus. The writing is superb. Rarely do the heart and head come together so well without sacrificing or compromising either.

Modest without being falsely self effacing, this truly is an indispensable book for any American citizen or world citizen. And its an absolute must for any political junkie from Al Franken to Ann Coulter.

Stop what you're doing. Run out and get it. Its a great gift for anyone's birthday in May (June is too late -- its that good).

Ted Sorensen is a historical figure in his own right. He was indispensable to Kennedy and now to Obama.

There are many reasons to read this book. Not just for its great insights with an unobscured and unobstructed perspective, but because of new information into the life of JFK whose reputation will be enhanced by this near reverential but still candid volume.

A mutual friend of Ted Sorensen's just forwarded me the first reviews including the Wall Street Journal. To say they were raves is to understate them.
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