Edward M. Kennedy : A Biography

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9780688142858: Edward M. Kennedy : A Biography

Edward M. Kennedy is one of the most influential senators in Congress. For the last 35 years, he′s played a major role in events ranging from the Vietnam War to Supreme Court confirmations. He′s also been closely associated with issues such as health care, civil rights and campaign finance reform. More than the foremost lawmaker and best orator in the Senate, he′s enthralled (and disappointed) a generation who saw him as the keeper of his famous brothers′ flame. He′s seen America -- and her politics -- change in drastic ways. In this definitive biography, New York Times Washington Editor Adam Clymer draws an in-depth portrait of this complex man. Through interviews with Kennedy, and the people close to him, he places Kennedy′s career in a historical perspective, and observes how Kennedy′s personal life has affected his political performance. The Senator has dealt with his infamous legacy, struggled to overcome the Chappaquiddick incident, and handled spectacular failures as well as many truimphs. He′s one of the few old-fashioned liberals who has held the Democratic Party to its principles, and is a hero to many. This is a unique, enormously readable chronicle of one of the most fascinating political figures of our time.

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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

From the Back Cover:

The life of Edward M. Kennedy is a chronicle of our country's past fifty years. An authoritative and wonderfully readable biography, Edward M. Kennedy brings to life one of the most accomplished and fascinating men to walk the halls of Capitol Hill. Drawing on interviews with the Senator and those close to him, Adam Clymer follows Kennedy through his highs and lows—through Chappaquiddick, his public divorce, and his relationship with political figures such as the Clintons, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama—placing Kennedy's career in a historical perspective and observing how his family legacy has affected his political performance.

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