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The Kennedy Women: The Saga of an American Family Paperback – September 29, 1996


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Five generations of Kennedys are chronicled in this unauthorized biography of the women who helped shape the image of this enduring dynasty.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

This intimate portrait of five generations of Kennedy women is the basis for a minidocudrama airing in October.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st Ballantine Books Trade Pbk. Ed edition (September 29, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449911713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449911716
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Back in the seventies, bestselling author Laurence Leamer worked in a West Virginia coal mine. Four decades later that led him back to coal country to write his newest book, The Price of Justice, the story of two Pittsburgh lawyers and their more than decade long struggle to bring Don Blankenship, the chair of Massey Energy, to justice. It's a compelling story that John Grisham calls "superb...This is a book I wish I had written."

Customer Reviews

I found this book very interesting.
R Helen
Very good book on Rose Kennedy's family tree & all the Kennedy women beginning from 1849-1995 when Rose died.
Teddie D. Valenzuela
I read the nearly 1000 page book in a week.
NatomaMommy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Brown on January 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
For five years bestselling author, journalist & social historian Laurence Leamer researched the book, receiving unprecedented cooperation from Kennedy family members, interviewing scores of relatives & close associates, & gaining access to hundreds of personal documents. The book combines his exhaustive & superb scholarship with a gripping narrative that will forever alter our perception of America's royal family.
The Kennedy Women is a virtual feast for Kennedy lovers. The book could serve as a university course on the life of the family, chronicling five matrilineal generations in our nation's foremost political dynasty. It provides a poetic panorama of the history of American womanhood, as we are taken from the life of Bridget Murphy Kennedy, who arrived steerage class on an immigrant vessel to work as a servant in the slums of Boston, to the presentation of Joseph Kennedy's daughters to the Queen of England, to John F. Kennedy's White House, through discussions of the future Kennedy matriarchs Caroline Kennedy Scholossberg, Maria Shriver Schwartzenegger, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, & Rory Kennedy.
Wonderful, in-depth portraits with much new material are given of all the Kennedy women, particularly the ubiquitous Jackie, Ethel, & Eunice, & the mentally challenged Rosemary, whose story in all its horror & duplicity is revealed in detail.
It isn't often that one mourns coming to the end of a book. Although The Kennedy Women covers 933 pages, I was saddened to find myself on the last page.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
I bought this used and have literally spent the last three days reading it. I couldn't put it down; and I attribute that to Mr. Leamer's excellent writing style and meticulous and unbiased research. I think it's amazing that almost forty years after Dallas there is still an incredible amount of drek and sensational junk journalism floating around the Kennedy family. This book seemed to be very well-researched and the highly readable prose made it a true page-turner.
I was astonished at Joe Kennedy's decision to have Rosemary lobotomized; the passages about her in later years, especailly when her mother, Rose, tried to reconnect with her, were absolutely heartbreaking. That almost hurt my heart more than the more well-known murders and untimely deaths.
I have come away with a new respect for "The Girls", Eunice in particular. What a remarkable family. And an excellent book. I recommend this very highly.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robin Orlowski on July 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
When the Kennedy's entered the White House, everybody assumed that they were the perfect family. Following assasinations and tabloid headlines, the men were subsequently were criticized for fast living and political decisions.
The women, once ideal images of feminity became scorned for being the "ideal helpmate". For years, the press did not want to cover the women in anything other than fashion and family. Although Jackie despised the "little wife" role, she nonetheless went with it for the sake of election.
This book does a good job reconcilling the two methods of examination. For the first time, we get a well rounded picture of America's most famous family as seen through the eyes of women. Thanks to the separate spheres approach that prevailed until the late 20th century. If JFK's sisters were political, it was under the non-threating guise of community service and volunteer work.
Although Rose Kennedy was considered a tradditional matriarch, no other book had touched her subconcious desire to enter into politics or her intial revulsion of Joe Sr's womanizing. Thus, the dislike of Jackie (many people did not realize how much policy making influence she had) becomes all of the more ironic.
Younger generations of Kennedy women such as Kathleen Kennedy Townsend have also continued this tradition, but have sought (and won) elected office in their own right. RFK's youngest daughter, Rory, is an avowed feminist activist. This book would be of interest to anybody studying political dynastys and or the Kennedy family in particular. Because it balances the positives and negatives of it's focus, the book is well balanced and easy to read. Be warry of imitators because this is the definitive work.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By HeyJudy VINE VOICE on July 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
The virtues of THE KENNEDY WOMEN comes from its examination of the supporting players in the cast of the family. Author Laurence Leamer fills in many holes in our collective knowledge of the sisters of President Kennedy, and in our awareness the wives of his brothers. Joan Bennett Kennedy, first wife of Senator Edward Kennedy, and Ethel Skakel Kennedy, widow of Senator Robert Kennedy, finally get their share of the attention in this book.
So, too, does the late--and tragic--Kathleen Kennedy, who basically was disowned by her mother for eloping with the Marquis of Hartington, heir to the Duchy of Devonshire. His family is considered to be among England's leading Protestants, which was in sharp contrast to Rose Kennedy's devout Catholicism.
This is an important work, filling in the holes in our knowledge of these women who have mothered the current generations of the Kennedy family.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
A brilliant and thorough telling of what made the Kennedys tick, especially Rose Kennedy. Great recounting of the people(& their experiences) who were the earliest Kennedys in America. This book does not shed a good light on many key members of the family. A good reason to lose respect for Rose will be provided and documented over and over again throughout the book. Her hypocrisy regarding Catholicism, her philosophies in the raising of the children all serve the top priorities in her life- a superior family image, and social ambition to the highest degrees. Kennedy males were not discreet about any of these issues and apparently didn't have to be, but Rose constantly made the decisions to deny the array of family sins evident throughout the decades. The Kennedy Women were just victims of the system Rose and her husband created for them. They themselves are not necessarily to be disrespected. On the contrary, you feel sympathetic to this segment of the family. Rose Kennedy, her husband, the family sure give Catholics, Irish Catholics, the social elite, politicians, a bad name. This book reveals great truths about the past century with this family and their legacies. Ambition+ Greed+ Hypocrisy+ Wealth= The 20th century Kennedy family members. Read this if you are interested in the Kennedy saga, sociology, religion, and politics, and American history.
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