Review: Ted Kennedy, in a new biography, is better — and worse — than you thought! (The Washington Post Book World)
I’ve been doing a great deal of research on Ted Kennedy for my upcoming book, as you may know. Here, I thought I’d share with you some new insights from the new biography, and provide more of a critique of the book overall.
The first new insight, which I found particularly intriguing during the first few hours of reading The Kennedys, is that Kennedy was deeply involved in his brother’s work in the 1960 presidential campaign. While reading the biography, I realized that this had never been mentioned before.
That’s right: Ted Kennedy was involved directly in his brother John’s presidential campaign. And, he was, as you’ll see if you read on. But this is something that wasn’t mentioned before the book. Before Kennedy, there was very little known about the role Ted Kennedy played in John’s campaign. In The Kennedys’ Hidden Life, Kennedy biographer John S. Powell tells us that in fact Ted was actively recruited by Jack Kennedy to run for the presidency in 1960.
The fact that he was recruited by John’s brother, just as he was being recruited to be John’s running mate, is not something the public has ever heard. And that fact is not something that we’re told in John’s obituary as well as the JFK library biography that John would have read.
I was surprised at this fact, and I think it helps explain why Kennedy’s impact on his brother’s campaign in 1960 was different than his impact on his brother’s presidency in 2009. While John Kennedy was a man of great personal charm and a charismatic advocate for his causes, Kennedy was often a bit standoffish with the press, and that affected his public image.
As one could imagine, Ted Kennedy’s role in these two things was very different.
So it doesn’t seem to make sense that a man who was so close to his brother’s memory would be a huge figure in his brother’s campaign, but he wasn’t, if we’re going to base this new information on fact from the book.
I also found it interesting that Ted Kennedy, who was very much responsible for his brother