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The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and…
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The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P.… (2012)

by David Nasaw

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Really 3 1/2 stars. There's a lot of interesting information here -- in particular Kennedy's stint as ambassador -- but the writing isn't terribly engaging. Parts of the book (everything involving Rosemary) are heartbreaking and the end of the book left me feeling that despite his power and wealth, the last decades of Kennedy's life were terribly sad. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Learning more about great men, is a history lesson in the influence and pathways regarding the United States. Joseph P Kennedy was no less of a figure of this history. There is no secret that Kennedy became a very wealthy man. But, rumors persist of the actions taken to obtain wealth. I can recall a rumor that Kennedy's wealth was due to bootlegging and insider information on the repeal of prohibition. It was suggested that JPK had boats waiting off shore of the east coast to capitalize on this change in American law. The author David Nasaw silences that innuendo by pointing out that no evidence of any such endeavor occurred. Nor the rumor of mob ties to Kennedy. American folklore at best. JPK's money came from investing, buying and selling. A substantial beginning to his wealth from initial and groundbreaking movie business investments. JPK was a talented business man, organizer and administrator with a conservative mindset to safeguarding his money in tax based trusts and real estate. Though JPK was criticized for his isolationist views -- suggestive of appeasement at the time -- serving as America's British ambassador during the initial rise of Nazi Germany and the start of WWII, Kennedy's approach now seems cautious and calculating. Kennedy favored negotiation over war; a business man's motive. He was not outside the American mainstream on staying out of Europe's affairs. Though President Roosevelt did not agree with JPK or generally consider him close, Kennedy nonetheless was a prominent figure of the time; greatly quoted and sought by the American press. Though it seems that Kennedy's work schedule and lifestyle keep him away from his family regularly, family was what it was about. The Kennedy name. JPK created an American legacy that persists to this day. ( )
  MikeBiever | Apr 26, 2017 |
Really 3 1/2 stars. There's a lot of interesting information here -- in particular Kennedy's stint as ambassador -- but the writing isn't terribly engaging. Parts of the book (everything involving Rosemary) are heartbreaking and the end of the book left me feeling that despite his power and wealth, the last decades of Kennedy's life were terribly sad. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
This is an unfailingly absorbing account of the life of its subject, from the date of his birth on Sept 6 1888--just two days after my father's birth--to the death on 18 Nov 1969, after suffering a debilitating stroke on Dec 19, 1961. The account of his life making his money in the 1920's, his becoming the first head of SEC (he knew all the bad things investors should not be allowed to do), his heading the Maritime Commission, and then his time as ambassador to Britain--he was sure Hitler would win and did not want the U.S to try to stop him!--and his time after the war, when he was absorbed by the lives of his children. He played a big role in Jack's attaining the presidency, furnishing the money and advice which was sometimes accepted. It is a totally fascinating account, and there is not a dull page.in the book. ( )
1 vote Schmerguls | Jun 21, 2015 |
The Patriarch covers Joseph P. Kennedy’s entire life, with an emphasis on his life as ambassador to England from the late 1930s through his ignominious leaving just after the US entered World War II. That makes sense, as that role is what he is most remembered for, that and being the father of a president. As ambassador he is remembered as an appeaser of the Nazis, a defeatist, and an anti-Semite. The author goes deeply into his actions and the words so that readers will come away with a more nuanced understanding of his views, but without contradicting any of those conclusions.

The book is full of those “I didn’t know that” moments. As in, I didn’t know how Kennedy made his millions, nor how wealthy he became. The view of Kennedy’s offspring is interesting and revealing, including Rosemary, the daughter who was lobotomized during the years when that was a medical fad. Overall, the life if Joseph P. Kennedy is a tragic story.

The Patriarch is heavy … especially in hardcover. Its weight was almost, but not quite, enough to convince me I need an e-reader. The Patriarch took me a long time to finish, but that was not due to the author’s writing style, which I believe has improved a lot over the years -- enough that I consider him a favorite author. This book is a recommended read for those who want to understand one of the most interesting families in American history. ( )
  NewsieQ | Sep 17, 2014 |
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(Introduction) Joseph P. Kennedy was a man of boundless talents, magnetic charm, relentless energy, and unbridled ambition.
The Kennedy saga, like that of so many American families, begins with an ancestor's escape from poverty and oppression.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Celebrated historian David Nasaw brings to life the story of Joseph Patrick Kennedy, in this, the first and only biography based on unrestricted and exclusive access to the Joseph P. Kennedy papers."--

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