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Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography Paperback – October 24, 2000
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Adam Clymer, in his lengthy biography of Senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy, understands that his subject is simultaneously one of the most loved and most hated figures in American politics. Clymer nevertheless pours on the praise, calling the Massachusetts Democrat "a lawmaker of skill, experience, and purpose rarely surpassed since 1789." Clymer, Washington editor for The New York Times, also recognizes that Kennedy has never fulfilled his great ambition--to become president--because he stood far to the left of the public as much as because of personal controversy. Yet Jack and Bobby's kid brother has forged a remarkable career in the Senate, where he has become one of its longest-serving members and arguably the most influential senator of the 20th century. Even Kennedy's conservative enemies don't question his dogged persistence and ability to advance his goals through slow-paced reform. He is maddeningly effective, especially when it comes to "finding Republicans to work with and sharing the credit, or even letting them have it all." Clymer's book is engrossing, although it occasionally gets bogged down in legislative intricacies (chapter titles: "Creating Disability Rights" and "More Incremental Health Care Progress"). It's a compelling study of a man whose enormous political skills are routinely overshadowed by his own foibles. In the end, however, Clymer grows positively rhapsodic: "He deserves recognition not just as the leading Senator of his time, but as one of the greats in history." --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Few people are given the chance to live a productive life after they have become legends in their own time. Massachusetts senator Edward Kennedy is one of them, and Clymer, Washington editor of the New York Times, does an excellent job of narrating how Kennedy navigated a burdensome family legacy to become, in Clymer's view, one of the most effective lawmakers in American history. By the end of the book, most readers will believe that Clymer has made his case. But this is no hagiography. Clymer started covering Congress as a newspaper reporter in 1963, the year after Kennedy's election to the Senate, when John Kennedy was president and Robert Kennedy was attorney general. He has observed Senator Kennedy at more or less close range for 36 years, a level of intimacy that mitigates against rose-tinted glasses. Indeed, Clymer explores Kennedy's legislative, political and personal failures as well as the successes. No serious discussion of Kennedy as a legislator, party politician, husband, father or friend can proceed very far without a re-evaluation of Chappaquiddick. Clymer's assessment takes only a few pages, but it is solid and insightful, putting the episode in proper perspective and allowing it to resonate subtly through the rest of the book without treating it as the defining moment of Kennedy's life. Clymer's deft explanations of complex congressional maneuverings are models of good political reportage, and his judgments of Kennedy's character are even-handed. This is an old-fashioned, balanced, well-organized biography that does justice to both the virtues and flaws, public and private, of Senator Kennedy. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
As an unflinching voice for the underserved and underepresented, Kennedy is the epitomy of compassion at a time when members of his own party (the New Democrats)have appropriated some (but not all!) of the GOP's reactionary social polices. More than anybody, Kennedy deserves credit for staving off Newt and Trent's assuault on America and working to expand existing civil rights statues.
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How Ted Kennedy didn't become schizophrenic during his career is not so much a mystery but a phenomenon in the presence of which we should all feel a sense of humility. It couldn't have been a comfortable existence he lived in the 1970s and 1980s, and when, in the 1990s, George H.W. Bush hailed the advent of "the new world order" and American supremacy, of "law and order" government, instead of one that assures the rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" of all American citizens, he must have been completely distraught."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
No attempt is made to characterize Kennedy or view his work and life in that...Read more