Top positive review
22 people found this helpful
a powerful history of both the man AND the country
on March 14, 2001
THIS is the way high school history texts should be written. You read Clymer's bio on EMK (Edwardd M Kennedy) and, without realizing it, come away with a world of knowledge about Ted Kennedy, his brothers John and Robert, as well as almost every other relevant figure in U.S. and world history since the 1940s. By recounting the political history of the Kennedy family, and EMKs initially minor, but overall dominant, role in it, we learn about the political history of the United States in the past 50 years, and come to realize - astonishingly - that TED Kennedy is responsible for so many more accomplishments than either of his more famous brothers. More importantly, the text is a fair, objective assessment of EMK. Clymer does not shy away from the scandals like his expulsion form Harvard, the tragedy at Chappaquiddick and the rape trial of EMKs nephew in 1991. He deals with these issues head on, in detail, and lets the reader decide how to judge Kennedy - framing the paradox that IS Ted Kennedy - a man who has deal with more personal tragedy than most Shakespearean characters and sporadic personal failings, but who has spent 5 decades shaping US policy on domestic and international issues. There are so many great details in this book about JFKs early campaigns, the 1960 presidential election, Ted's Senate races in '62 and '64, the 1968 presidential election, Ted's work in the Senate in the 70s and international human rights efforts in Poland, Soviet Union, and South Africa, the 1979-80 presidential campaign, the Bork and Thomas Supreme Court nominations, and his work under Reagan, Bush and Clinton. You learn so much about the different presidencies and the leaders in Congress and US history that you cannot help but feel edified. This book is not a cheering section for EMK, but an articulate, thoughtful, objective history with just the perfect blend of detail, inertia and humor. Should be the standard for political biographies.