The Kennedy Family 1st Edition

2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1566397827
ISBN-10: 1566397820
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Hardcover, June 29, 2000
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Editorial Reviews


"A unique and compulsively readable book by a distinguished social historian and historian of medicine. Through his access to the records of the Kennedy Foundation, Shorter illuminates the Kennedy Family's philanthropic interests in a way that no one has done before, despite all that has been written on nearly all aspects of the Kennedys. And he tells us a great deal about America's public and private responses to mental retardation. This book deserves the attention of political historians, historians of disability, philanthropy and medicine, and the general public alike. It represents a singular and quite impressive achievement." --Edward Berkowitz, Chair, Department of History, George Washington University, and author of Disabled Policy: America's Programs for the Handicapped "A lively, wonderfully engaging account of the momentous contributions of Eunice Kennedy Shriver to the Mental Retardation movement, the book is also a deserved tribute to the families of the mentally retarded. Moreover, Shorter details the chilling history of how the treatment and perception of the mentally retarded only recently evolved from the barbarisms to commonly practiced in prior decades. Shorter's unique professional perspective adds cachet to the deft sensitivity with which he tells this compelling story. A fascinating study, it will resonate with many audiences." --James W. Hilty, Professor of History, Temple University, and author of Robert Kennedy, Brother Protector (Temple)

From the Publisher

An account of mental retardation through the eyes of the Kennedy Family

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 249 pages
  • Publisher: Temple University Press; 1 edition (June 29, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566397820
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566397827
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,428,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Professor of the History of Medicine, Professor of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. Currently doing research on the history of psychiatry and of psychopharmacology.

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robin Orlowski on November 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book examines why and how the Kennedys became involved with Mental Retardation and eventually all disability right issues. Because myself and many other Americans have benefited from the civil rights laws of the last thirty years, it is eye opening to remember a world had once existed without those laws.

People with disabilties were so scorned by society that 'erasing' their presence or locking them up at home was previously considered the most loving option. Partially from their own history with Rosemary, the Kennedys felt obligated to use their reputation and change these public moores.

This same book also notes how the independent living movement eventually surpassed Eunice Kennedy Shriver's Special Olympic work as the most visible manifestation of people with disabilties. Although their visiblity was made possible through the family's previous community organizing, people with disabilities themselves subsequently sought a greater role in a movement dedicated to their rights.

However enlightened for the time, Special Olympics are today considered by some people to instead reinforce 'poster child' sterotypes of people with disabilities. Reccent Special Olympic materials are mindful of the shift, now stressing participant empowerment and dignity. Mental retardation references were revised with the term 'intellectual disabilities'.

This is not a particularly involved read, but it is interesting for people interested in the Kennedy family and/or disability rights. Because it is supposed to focus on the family's contributions to this policy area, the scope is much smaller than other disability history books. At the same time, this book does not pretend this family had all the answers with disability rights issues, and acknowlleged they were as influenced by other activists as the activists were influenced by them.
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12 of 23 people found the following review helpful By N.. Martin on January 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
What Joe Kennedy did was to take a reportedly shy and mildly retarded woman (or so they claimed) and obliterate her humanity with a lobotomy. The reason is reported to be that she was considered an embarassment and a potential roadblock to Kennedy political ambitions.

It was a "failed" lobotomy, the reports frequently say. What would constitute a successful lobotomy? The Kennedys have spent the subsequent decades promoting psychiatric tortures and coercive mistreatments of millions of other Americans who have ended up in the clutches of the "mental health community." In short, their "philanthropy" is one of support for violence and torture. For this they are feted as humanitarians by apologists such as this author.
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