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Edward Kennedy: An Intimate Biography Paperback – Bargain Price, September 6, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582437610
  • ASIN: B0096EPKTM
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,295,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A vivid protagonist who never quite escapes the pull of family and fate anchors this novelistic portrait of the late Massachusetts senator. Journalist Hersh (Bobby and J. Edgar) makes Kennedy his own statesman--a born politician and authentic liberal who combined a capacity for conciliation with a talent for ruthless maneuvering. But Kennedy never entirely shook off the hold of Kennedyness: the shadow of his domineering father, who he feared might have him lobotomized like his sister Rosemary if he didn't measure up; the ghosts of his dead brothers; the dread of assassination; the predatory sense of entitlement, especially to booze and women; the clan's epic bad luck. The author meticulously recounts Kennedy's political wrangles and legislative initiatives, but his approach is literary rather than wonkish; drawing on Hersh's decades-long acquaintance with the family, the prose brims with sardonic humor and indelible sketches of, say, Bobby's misery-wrinkled little hawk's face or Jackie's uncomfortable campaign appearances as a remote Vogue cutout before... seemingly endless files of scrubwomen. The result is an entertaining, psychologically acute rendition of a man and a mystique.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* For readers exhausted at the thought of another Ted Kennedy biography, this one is beautifully written and exquisitely detailed with plenty of new material drawn from investigation and interviews with Kennedy and his family, friends, and colleagues, as well as some impressions by historian Hersh, a friend of Kennedy’s since childhood. There’s the family history: driven Joe Kennedy, about whose philosophy of cutthroat competition, Hersh writes: “Nothing here the Corleones wouldn’t rubber-stamp.” Ted was born last in a large brood of overambitious, outsize personalities, so he developed the skills for gregariousness and conciliation that would serve him well in politics. All the usual history is here: the dirty politics of each Kennedy’s career climb, the assassinations of John and Robert, Ted’s stoic taking up of the Kennedy mantle, Chappaquiddick, the drinking, the affairs, and redemption, but it is fleshed out with previously undisclosed ruminations by Kennedy and the people who knew him well. Hersh also offers new insights on the accident that nearly destroyed Kennedy’s political life, the drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne. Part 1 contains mesmerizing analysis of the personal dynamics between the famous Kennedy brothers and Ted’s self-doubts and eventual mastery of the political game. Part 2 focuses on Kennedy’s growth in the powerful position of “shadow president,” the man who, though he failed to achieve what at one time had been considered inevitable, nevertheless wielded enormous political power and influence. Totally riveting. --Vanessa Bush --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Burton Hersh Literary Background

After a rousing undergraduate career at Harvard, during which he won the History and Literature Prize, the top Bowdoin Prize, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Burton Hersh pushed off into a life as a professional writer animated by occasional triumphs and more or less constant controversy. After college he spent a year in the Black Forest as a Fulbright student, then a stint in the military as a radio operator along the Czech border and a high-clearance German translator and intelligence specialist for the Seventh Army. Then, newly married, he moved to the Austrian Alps and wrote his still - fortunately - unpublished first novel.

He returned to the United States in 1961 just as John F. Kennedy was taking over the presidency. Throughout the subsequent decade he specialized in well-paid magazine articles on skiing, culture and politics for a variety of magazines from Horizon to Esquire. After four years in New York and New Haven he wrote his first published novel, The Ski People, and the widely anthologized Esquire piece on the fledgling Senator Kennedy, whose life would generate three books by Hersh over the next four decades.

The first, The Education of Edward Kennedy, with its moment-to-moment breakdown of the events surrounding the Chappaquiddick cookout, was regarded by right-wingers as a whitewash of Kennedy's stumbling performance that terrible evening. The book was followed up by the bestselling The Mellon Family and, in 1992, after a decade of massive interviewing and research, The Old Boys: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA. Bitterly resented inside the Agency for spilling all its secrets though cherished by the likes of John Le Carre, the group biography is now required reading for every incoming officer and in evidence on most desks at Langley, its institutional history.

In 1997 Hersh published The Shadow President, a treatment of Kennedy's subsequent twenty-five years that drew raves from critics from Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. to Tom Wicker to Daniel Schorr. A novel, The Nature of the Beast, that explored the ethical substructure of the CIA and was widely praised by critics up to the Agency's own Inspector General, came out in 2003. In 2007 a book that came out of a whole career of journalistic, social, and at times political involvement with the Kennedys and explored the secret family connections to the underworld that undoubtedly led to Jack Kennedy's assassination, Bobby and J. Edgar, brought down a tsunami of attacks from both the left and the right. Insults - but nothing specific ever to refute the details of who killed JFK and how - have poured in ever since from ignorant commentators.

In 2010 a thoroughly edited and much expanded and updated version of the two previous books on Edward Kennedy came out, Edward Kennedy: An Intimate Biography, and was generally hailed as definitive on Kennedy's life and career. It contained the ins and outs of the very nearly lethal vendetta between Kennedy and Richard Nixon and the reminiscences of the woman who had been Kennedy's great love during the most trying years of his middle life.

Much additional detail is available on Burton Hersh's website, www.treefarmbooks.com. He vents his opinions on a more or less weekly blog, What's Left Out: http://burtonhersh.blogspot.com/ Keep reading!

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Iceboxlogic on September 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Despite" might well have served as Senator Ted Kennedy's middle name: with an eerie persistence that bespeaks the towering willpower of both his formidable parents, the pressure-cooker of his peripatetic upbringing, and his own flawed moral fibre, he succeeded, in the main, warts and, despite himself. Burton Hersh's biography is a wrestling match of a book, an excavation of personal anguish and loss, epic torment, curiously ambivalent ambition, breathtaking lubriciousness, an Irish Sea of booze, and, finally, a kind of personal redemption of Shakespearean scale. It's perhaps the best insight we'll ever have into a political life, like Churchill's equally sprawling, outsize career, that we shall never see the like of again.

The subtitle speaks truth: Burton Hersh's exceptional anatomy of the life of Senator Edward Kennedy is far more than the biography of a political princeling. Hersh makes a convincing case that hindmost brother of the trio whose lives so marked 1960s America was in fact the most subtly successful politician of the lot. This despite a life of seismic ups and downs, from cosseted childhood as an ambassador/speculator's youngest to an horrific air crash, the assassinations of both brothers and the near-career-ender of an automobile accident that killed one of his late brother's brightest young staffers at Chappaquiddick and the brain cancer that finally felled the "lion of the Senate" in August 2009.

Hersh is a rarity: an investigative journalist of real literary power, a power alloyed with an almost feline sense of the man whose life he interpreted and documented for nearly fifty years, from an early magazine profile of Kennedy in 1968 until Hersh's blunt 2007 dual political biography of RFK and J.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By gilsinclair on December 6, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So many books have already been written on Sen. Edward Kennedy. This one could have been just one more. It is not. The author succeeded in taking the full perspective of Kennedy's life and public career, pinpointing the moments of glory and those of failure, re-assessing these moments in the light of the actual external circumstances and Kennedy's inner perceptions, thoughts and intentions. I learnt a lot! The man deserves perhaps less than what the myth would tend to suggest, but certainly much more than what Kennedy's opponents would claim. The book describes not only the history of a man but also his destiny.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Book Maven on August 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
My only complaint about this book is the title. Yes, it's by far the most "intimate" biography of Ted Kennedy ever written, but it's also a compelling political biography.
Brilliantly written, this is the biography that both Ted Kennedy and America deserve. Nothing is hidden, and nothing is missed in this classic book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Grant Schott on November 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Beautifully written, Hersh has his own entertaining, at times cryptic, writing style. This book contains some material from his previous two Kennedy books, but this one is much more thorough and puts all the pieces together.

Hersh offers a more generous view of Joe Kennedy Sr. than other books , depicting him as a loving though absent father who was loyal to his friends, such as Teddy's namesake, Edward Moore. Rejection from the Boston Brahmins fueled Joe Kennedy's competitive nature, which he instilled in his children. The loyal youngest brother rose to expectations much higher than had been thought because of the family's tragic losses.

This book documents more than any other Teddy's key role in the 1968 Bobby Kennedy campaign. Teddy campaigned actively not only in 1968 primary states but in the then dominant state conventions, where he was generally better received by party leaders than his more reserved and tense older brother. Hersh describes the RFK campaign as doomed from the start with party leaders and their delegations in lockstep behind LBJ, and, after his withdrawal, Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Teddy and many Kennedy advisors opposed the uphill campaign as it was debated, but went all out per Robert and Ethel's decision to run.

Hersh thoroughly documents Kennedy's remarkable legislative career and his failed 1980 presidential campaign, which he carried on to the convention despite impossible odds after his early losses. The author does not ignore his flaws, mainly his weakness for drink, food, and women. Though regarded as a diehard liberal, Hersh argues that Kennedy's eagerness to compromise led him at times to support legislation that many liberal Democrats strongly opposed, chiefly NAFTA and No Child Left Behind.
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By Tom Watrous on January 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
Burton Hersh's book puts forth incorrect data concerning Teddy Kennedy's famous ski-jump ride at Tomahawk Ridge, west of Madison, Wisconsin, in the winter of 1960. (pp. 112-113)

I know about this first-hand because I was there. Not only was I there, but I did my ride down the jump IMMEDIATELY before Teddy did his. I remember clearly that he did his jump UNANNOUNCED; it was only after his ride that his identity was revealed to the crowd.

Mr. Hersh states that Teddy crashed as a result of his ride. This is fictitious sensationalism. Teddy did NO SUCH THING............. He flailed his arms as anyone would do on their first ride off a ski-jump, but kept his balance and rode confidently to the end of the outrun. (Kindly see: LIFE Magazine, 28 March, 1960, pp. 28-29, which features a full-sized photo of Teddy in mid-air. The caption reads: "He landed safely, then made breathless speech to crowd of 10,000")

Let's get the facts straight and give the man a break.
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