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Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 3, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Former New York Times journalist Beauchamp offers a fascinating inside look at the reign of moviemaking king Joseph P. Kennedy, who held sway over the industry from 1926 to 1930. Kennedy was responsible for creating some of the most renowned movies; he plucked iconic stars from obscurity and transformed the business forever. Pam Ward delivers a solid performance, presenting Beauchamp's findings with a straightforward, journalistic tone. Neither over the top nor monotonous, Ward relates the material with an ear for old Hollywood-speak without sounding forced or mechanical. The result is an entertaining and incredibly informative listening experience. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 1). (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“An exceptional work of film scholarship, packed with information no one had uncovered before that reads like a juicy novel.”

–Leonard Maltin in Vanity Fair

“Unveiling a trove of newly revealed documents, Cari Beauchamp makes fiduciary details fascinating and Hollywood gossip substantive. Joseph P. Kennedy Presents is an essential guide to understanding the role of this family in American life. . . The intellect, the intuition, the gumption, the gall, the vision, and the restless ambition of the founding father are meticulously documented. . . the narrative moves as fast as any shoot-‘em-up.”

—Martin F. Nolan, The Boston Globe

“Cari Beauchamp deserves great credit for bringing Joseph P. Kennedy into sharp focus with a wealth of detail, especially about his business dealings, which other biographers have tended to skip over, and his long involvement with Hollywood and the movie business. . . Beauchamp has had access to documents nobody has ever used before. . . This is three books in one, a business story, a lively biography (especially on the subject of Joe Kennedy and Gloria Swanson), and a detailed examination of the movie business from 1926 to 1930. . . For anybody interested in the movie business, this is must reading. . . The end of Beauchamp’s book artfully recreates the last years of the old tycoon in a way that still has the power to move, showing just what a strong hold the Kennedy family still has on our imaginations. . . So much has been written about all this that is hard to imagine a new way of seeing it, but thanks to her diligence, Beauchamp has succeeded not only in finding a new way of telling the story, but one which adds to it much we didn’t know before. ”

—Michael Korda, The Daily Beast

“[Kennedy’s Hollywood years] rarely has been documented in such meticulous detail… Up till now no one had written in depth about this aspect of Kennedy’s long career. Well-written and researched, Beauchamp’s book is a probing examination of the man in the industry during perhaps its most fascinating period.”

Chicago Sun-Times

“Richly detailed. . . a penetrating portrait of [Kennedy] as a movie mogul. . . his remarkable story includes numerous affairs with stars and starlets, famously including Gloria Swanson, which Beauchamp recounts with great confidence and zest. . . An engrossing account of a man many only think they know and of some of the golden years of American filmmaking.”

Booklist, starred

“Cari Beauchamp has dug deep into my mother’s files and records and emerged to finally tell the true story of Gloria Swanson’s relationship with Joe Kennedy. No one else has ever been as honest or as thorough.”

—Michelle Farmer Amon, daughter of Gloria Swanson

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (February 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400040000
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400040001
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,281,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard C. Ferris on January 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a remarkable 403 page biography on the life of Joseph Kennedy. The author, Cari Beauchamp, has crafted a crisp and comprehensive assessment of Mr. Kennedy's monumental life journey with particular emphasis on his involvement with owning/managing motion picture studios during the 20s and 30's. It's a fascinating major chapter in his life that I wager many in the general public have little knowledge.

His life has elements of Greek mythology where the gods award unlimited business acumen and the ability to acquire untold wealth. However, this gift comes with a dear price. He has to witness the violent death of four of his children on four separate occasions, Kathleen, Joe, John and Bobby. In addition he plays a role in inadvertently condemning his oldest daughter, Rosemary, to a life of unspeakable terror through a botched frontal lobotomy procedure. Truth is indeed stranger then fiction.

The book portrays JK as a cold calculating business genius. The youngest bank president at 27 who's next challenge was building great wealth either managing or owning four movie studios. During one period he was successfully managing four studios at one time.
Gloria Swanson was once quoted as saying "Joseph Kennedy operated just like Joseph Stalin".

The book devotes many pages to the intimate and business relationship between JK and GS.Their romantic relationship somewhat complicated, and at other times enabled, by their respective spouses. Their business relationship, outlined in great detail, is extremely revealing. Kennedy was instrumental in restructuring her debt and renegotiating business contracts to place Gloria's financial footing on a lucrative path. He also was instrumental,as studio head,in reigniting her theatrical career.
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Format: Hardcover
This review refers to the Audible version of the book, since the new Audible site has disabled its review and ratings features (no buttons for this any more).

Joseph P. Kennedy Presents is an interesting book, although it's less engaging than Beauchamp's earlier book on Frances Marion, Without Lying Down. Beauchamp has done a lot of work in the archives and is able to trace Kennedy's business dealings in intricate, sometimes excruciating, detail. Although she dispels the idea that Kennedy was a bootlegger, she does point out that at the beginning of WWII he was able to send 200,000 cases of liquor back to the U.S., when such shipments were prohibited, by using his diplomatic status as U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James.

The Kennedy that emerges in this book is a brilliant businessman and a charismatic figure who had the foresight to invent new ways of structuring companies to maximize profits for himself, although in a classic case of shutting the barn door after the horses have escaped, many of these methods were later regulated out of existence, due perhaps in part to the wreckage that he left behind. Beauchamp points out that to Kennedy's way of thinking, this kind of wreckage was not his problem: if Gloria Swanson or others who trusted him did not look out for themselves, that was their fault for being too naive. The women left in the wake of his serial and incessant womanizing (as described here) were similarly at fault, in his mind, if they didn't manage to escape the charm offensive (and occasionally hands-on groping) that he continued to engage in throughout his life.

Lest this sound too negative, Beauchamp stresses Kennedy's love for his children despite absences from home that seem from this book to stretch for months at a time.
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Format: Hardcover
This book shows Joseph Kennedy's ruthlessness, greed and excess. The book is very readable despite considerable detail. I found myself at times skimming and a little skipping but then something grabbed me and I continued to read. In fact the book was hard to put down. The revelation of Kennedy's business affairs and especially his various women conquests including his longtime affair with Gloria Swanson are quite fascinating.
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Format: Hardcover
This meticulously researched, highly intelligent read clarifies the Joseph Kennedy myth. Yes, he was a ruthless and highly effective businessman who earned much of his fortune from hard work mixed with placing himself continuously at the edge of the newest, latest opportunity. The easy throwaway line that he made all his money as a bootlegger is dispelled by this account of JPK's dealings in Hollywood. Many who can barely approach JPK's level of confidence and skill often wish to negate his considerable accomplishments through facile throwaway lines. The man was brilliant though clearly not soft, weak, or even thoughtful towards those who might thwart his steamroller ambition. Many say that "timing is everything;" his business timing was impeccable.

Well worth the read for anyone who has a serious interest in the true story about the beginnings of the Kennedy dynasty and legacy; and, the early days of Hollywood.
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This book is so fascinating that I have read it twice. Amazing interwining of 2 major industries, the Kennedys and Hollywood! Unbelievable how Joe wheeled and dealed his way through the stock market and Hollywood, yet remained such a beloved figure to his children.
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