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The Kennedys Amidst the Gathering Storm: A Thousand Days in London, 1938-1940 Hardcover – April 29, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 34 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Clinical psychologist and historian Swift (The Roosevelts and the Royals) capably documents Joseph P. Kennedy's troubled tenure as American minister to the Court of St. James's, and the experiences of his family during these years, aiming to present a fair and comprehensive portrait of a man he says has been caricatured by other historians. But Kennedy's flaws still appear to outweigh his virtues. He proved a problem to FDR almost immediately, casting his lot with such British appeasers as Neville Chamberlain, Nancy Astor and others of the so-called Cliveden set. This earned him the enmity of Winston Churchill and criticism from such administration figures as Henry Morgenthau Jr., Cordell Hull and FDR himself, who had to regularly remind Kennedy that his role was to implement, not define, United States policy. Kennedy lasted just over two years, during which his second eldest son, Jack, became a bestselling author with Why England Slept. Eldest son Joe Jr. toured war-torn Spain and wrote articles in support of Franco's Fascist forces. And daughter Kathleen (Kick) became immersed in aristocratic British nightlife, meeting Billy Cavendish—the marquess of Hartington and a Protestant—to whom she would eventually be married, to her Catholic mother's horror. All this Swift narrates with grace and style. Illus. and photos. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Swift’s subject of Joseph Kennedy’s ambassadorship to the UK intersects with the author’s previous interest in British monarchs (The Roosevelts and the Royals, 2004). Indeed, the social-register aspect of the Kennedy family’s navigation of elite London society during their three-year stay, involving debutante presentations for the daughters, political grooming for the sons, and celebrity status for all, receives the author’s extensive narrative attention. Readers familiar with the Kennedy story will see portents of the future in Swift’s detailing of the activities of Joe Jr., Kathleen, and Jack, especially, while learning why their father’s diplomatic tenure became notorious. Joe Kennedy forgot an ambassador’s role, which is to represent the president’s views to the host government; instead, he pressed his own pessimistic predictions of Britain’s chances against Germany. Amid his chronicles of Kennedy’s diplomatic indiscretions, Swift strains to be sympathetic, citing FDR’s hostility toward Kennedy, but ultimately doesn’t challenge history’s verdict that as ambassador, Joe failed. Nevertheless, 1938–40 is a crucial period in the Kennedy epic that Swift covers well for fans of the clan’s history. --Gilbert Taylor

Product details

  • Publisher : Smithsonian; First edition (April 29, 2008)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 400 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0061173568
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0061173561
  • Item Weight : 1.65 pounds
  • Dimensions : 6 x 1.25 x 9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.1 out of 5 stars 34 ratings

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Mr. Charles J. Calderone
5.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting history of the years Joe Kennedy was ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 12, 2018
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