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Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by…

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

by Kate Clifford Larson

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I have a love/hate relationship with this book. I love that Rosemary's story is finally being told, but hate that she was abused by her family who was embarrassed with her mental illness and by the medical professionals that performed a lobotomy on her. How tragic! How parents could have treated their own daughter in this way is mind boggling, but they didn't want their precious name soiled. ( )
  travelgal | Mar 27, 2018 |
The treatment of Rosemary Kennedy by medical professionals, by social restrictions and attitudes towards women, and by parental expectations was a violation of human decency. It's unbelievable what this vulnerable woman was forced to endure.

I realize this was a difficult book for the author to research since so much had been done by Joe and Rose Kennedy to hide the condition of Rosemary. Even with the problematic restraints, the author did a commendable job of putting together a comprehensive account of Rosemary's life. Certainly the account of Rosemary's world did not require any embellishment, nor was any attempted, in regards to the horrific treatment that she experienced.

I know, I know, we need to understand the mindset of the times. Quite frankly, I'm fed up with that kind of bullshit thinking. Rosemary was abused and mistreated, and I hope that she did find a kind of peace in her Wisconsin life after a lobotomy destroyed what was left of her essence as a person.

This book allowed me to see Rosemary as a person, not a character, and I doubt that I would be as upset as I am if Larson's writing would have allowed me some emotional distance. This was a book that I started in the morning and finished in the afternoon because there wasn't any way that I could leave Rosemary's side until I knew every last details. I rate this book as a 4 instead of a 5 because I wanted more details of Rosemary's life after she was transferred to Wisconsin. This is possibly not the fault of Larson as the author was probably hampered by what she was able to access about Rosemary's life. I guess I must blame the author because she made me care so much about Rosemary prior to the barbaric surgery! ( )
  MNTreehugger | Oct 20, 2017 |
Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson is a book that was hard to read due to the content and not due to due to the author in any way. Let's face it, Rosemary's father was a big jerk! This book didn't say this but just read it and common sense sees it. I have read plenty of respectable articles on this family. Let's go through this shall we.
Joe Sr., Rosemary's father, main focus in life was political power, financial power, social power, and being a powerful Catholic. He bullied others to back him in politics, he did insider trading that left many poor but him rich -he was doing this during a birth of one of his children, he didn't believe women should enjoy sex but only should have sex to have children yet he had affairs, he kept his wife pregnant and he was away frequently and she was lonely, when she got so lonely she wanted to leave he berated her and said she was unfit mother and Catholic, he sent Rosemary to school after school to FIX her even though she functioned at a fourth grade level he wanted perfection because that is what he believed in for his family, he was the one that took Rosemary to the quack and had the lobotomy done on her and lied to the family, his 9 yr old son was afraid enough of him that he thought he would make him disappear too if he didn't please his father, and I could go on.... This is the kind of father Rosemary had. Rosemary was a blight on his social standing, his political ambitions, his social climb, and she couldn't take sacraments due to her retardation. All the things that mattered most to him.
The author didn't seem bias in her writing, she just stated the facts and let you dig out the conclusions. I have read a lot on this family, kind of weird fascination I guess.
Being a nurse too I have read a lot on Freeman and his lobotomy procedures. It got to be a theater act for him. He would sometimes line up the patients and do one right after another to see how many he could do in an hour. He would, on occasion, have an ice pick in each hand and do a procedure at the same time to show the press how same and easy it was! Horrible!
When the discussion of Hitler and his views of sterilizing the mentally handicap, along with the Jews and any others that Hitler felt unfit, in Germany, to me this sounds no different then the start of what I am hearing here in America. If Trump said, "Muslims not only should be banned but sterilized." Many of his supporters would jump all over that! I am not saying America would but you bet some of his supporters would. I know for a fact that some mentally handicap people are being sterilized today by their families or getting an implant to prevent pregnancy. It is just a matter of getting some to agree for whatever reason, or good lawyers.
I did enjoy the information I gleaned from this book and the many pictures that were in there. The author also shared some personal info on the last page. The "good" that came from this? JFK did enact bills for the mentally handicap, Teddy the HIPPA, and a sister donated millions and worked for the handicap. Joe Sr, Karma is a bitch and she gave back to him in the end...stuck in a wheel chair unable to speak or move more than one an arm or leg much for 8 yrs. due to a stroke. I love you Karma... ( )
  MontzaleeW | Mar 8, 2017 |
I suppose Larson could do no better than to write this story in the conditional, but unless it is a "fictional biography," it is best to stick with "just the facts, ma'am."

May have's and might have's are very well if used sparingly, but this book was replete with them.

The amount of detail about the nine children was probably just about right for Eunice and Jack since they both played a role in Eunice's early life, and Eunice took on the oversight of Rosemary's care once her father was felled by a stroke. Except for their early deaths I could not understand why Kit and Joe, Jr. got so many inches compared to Pat, Jean, Bobby and Teddy.

Although the author tried to make it clear that Joseph was the one responsible for Rosemary's impairment by a totally unreputable procedure, Rose cannot escape from censure completely. Except for Eunice the other siblings rarely visited Rosemary, either. Shame.

But the low marks (3.5*) were not to reflect on the family. They, like most of us, were a product of their times. Rosemary's impairments were not due to s "naturally" difficult birth, but to a nurse deliberately and willful pushing the infant's head back into the birth canal FOR TWO HOURS to delay her birth until the doctor could arrive. Malpractice? On so many levels.

The low mark's were for the very wooden performance of the narrator, combined with the moribund prose she had to read. Did the author really need to thrill the reader with the truly gruesome details of the lobotomy? ( )
  kaulsu | Jan 23, 2017 |
Rosemary Kennedy, born in 1918, was the third child and first daughter of Joseph and Rose Kennedy. Her birth was difficult for her mother who realized after other daughters were born, that Rosemary was mentally delayed in comparison to her siblings. As the family acquired more wealth and prestige and eventually grew to a family of 9 children, it became ever more evident that Rosemary required greater care. Rose investigated several options over the years and usually was able to find tutors, nuns and nurses for Rosemary. At this time, there were very few programs for "retarded" children and often they were housed in institutions. Rosemary was able to function at about a grade 4 level.
This book does not pull any punches in exploring the private lives of this famous family. Joe's ambitions, business dealings, public service as ambassador to England and many affairs are exposed. Rose's interest in physical activity, diets, fashion, travel and Catholicism are explored.
It is easy to be appalled at how Rosemary was treated as an adult who became increasingly moody, violent, unhappy and hard to manage. As JFK was running for politics, Joe Sr. worried that having a,"retarded" sister would reflect badly on the family and JFK's future. His solution of a lobotomy was and is appalling. The surgery caused serious damage and Rosemary spent the rest of her life in an institution. I had to remind myself that at the time, knowledge of how the brain functioned and the availability of pharmaceuticals was very limited.
There were several positive outcomes of Rosemary's condition. Eunice Kennedy established the Special Olympics for children and youth. Eunice also influenced JFK to pass legislation protecting disabled children and providing funding for programs. Ted as a Senator became a strong supporter for similar programs.
Very interesting story. I listened to this as an audiobook. ( )
  MaggieFlo | Jan 13, 2017 |
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To those struggling with disabilities and mental illness, and the families who love them
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0547250258, Hardcover)

They were the most prominent American family of the twentieth century. The daughter they secreted away made all the difference.

Joe and Rose Kennedy’s strikingly beautiful daughter Rosemary attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the Queen of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters. And yet, Rosemary was intellectually disabled — a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family. 
Major new sources — Rose Kennedy’s diaries and correspondence, school and doctors' letters, and exclusive family interviews — bring Rosemary alive as a girl adored but left far behind by her competitive siblings. Kate Larson reveals both the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave to Rosemary and then — as the family’s standing reached an apex — the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly intractable in her early twenties. Finally, Larson illuminates Joe’s decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age twenty-three, and the family's complicity in keeping the secret. 
Rosemary delivers a profoundly moving coda: JFK visited Rosemary for the first time while campaigning in the Midwest; she had been living isolated in a Wisconsin institution for nearly twenty years. Only then did the siblings understand what had happened to Rosemary and bring her home for loving family visits. It was a reckoning that inspired them to direct attention to the plight of the disabled, transforming the lives of millions.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 07 Jul 2015 16:40:05 -0400)

The revelatory, poignant story of Rosemary Kennedy, the eldest and eventually secreted-away Kennedy daughter, and how her life transformed her family, its women especially, and an entire nation

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