Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography

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9780060957872: Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography

The life of Edward M. Kennedy is a chronicle of our country's last forty yearsand this authoritative and wonderfully readable biography offers unprecedented insight into the inner workings of our legislative process. Drawing on interviews with the Senator and those close to him Adam Clymer follows Kennedy through his highs and lows to his present years as a patriarch of his famous family.

In this biography, Clymer places Kennedy's career in a historical perspective, and observes how his infamous family legacy has affected his political performance. From Chappaquidick to his public divorce and his involvement in his nephew William Kennedy Smith's Palm Beach incident, readers will see how lie struggled to maintainhis own dignity and that of his very visible family.

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Review:

Adam Clymer, in his lengthy biography of Senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy, understands that his subject is simultaneously one of the most loved and most hated figures in American politics. Clymer nevertheless pours on the praise, calling the Massachusetts Democrat "a lawmaker of skill, experience, and purpose rarely surpassed since 1789." Clymer, Washington editor for The New York Times, also recognizes that Kennedy has never fulfilled his great ambition--to become president--because he stood far to the left of the public as much as because of personal controversy. Yet Jack and Bobby's kid brother has forged a remarkable career in the Senate, where he has become one of its longest-serving members and arguably the most influential senator of the 20th century. Even Kennedy's conservative enemies don't question his dogged persistence and ability to advance his goals through slow-paced reform. He is maddeningly effective, especially when it comes to "finding Republicans to work with and sharing the credit, or even letting them have it all." Clymer's book is engrossing, although it occasionally gets bogged down in legislative intricacies (chapter titles: "Creating Disability Rights" and "More Incremental Health Care Progress"). It's a compelling study of a man whose enormous political skills are routinely overshadowed by his own foibles. In the end, however, Clymer grows positively rhapsodic: "He deserves recognition not just as the leading Senator of his time, but as one of the greats in history." --John J. Miller

About the Author:

Adam Clymer, Washington correspondent of The New York Times, has covered Congress for the Times and the Baltimore Sun since 1963, the year after Edward Kennedy was elected to the Senate. He's written for The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, The Progressive, The Reporter, and elsewhere. Clymer lives with his wife in Washington, D.C

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