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Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography Paperback – Jul 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 Updated edition (July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061843717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061843716
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,645,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A comprehensive chronicle of the influential career of the last Kennedy brother draws from exclusive interviews with the Senator and those closest to him, discussing his role in the Senate, his scandals, his disappointments, and his triumphs. Reprint. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MarkK TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 22 Aug. 2004
Format: Hardcover
In this book, Adam Clymer offers us a well-written, detailed portrait of the life and career of Edward Kennedy, a man who has long labored under the shadows cast by his ambitious family. Burdened by the expectations the came with the family name and tarnished by the self-inflicted wounds of scandal, he nonetheless persevered to become a force in the United States Senate, one whose career the author ranks as one of the greatest in the history of the institution.
Such a judgment certainly reflects Clymer's bias for his subject. But he does make a convincing case for the influential role that Kennedy has played in the Senate over the past three decades. Clymer conveys Kennedy's love for the Senate, which he argues was reflected in his half-hearted attempts for the White House in the 1970s and 1980s. While some may argue that his failure to win the nomination makes any effort to minimize his presidential campaigns a case of sour grapes, Clymer demonstrates how Kennedy thrived in the Senate in a way his brothers - who seemed to treat their careers there as little more than platforms from which to launch their bids for the White House - never did.
Yet Clymer's biography is not without its flaws. As some reviewers have noted, the book occasionally bogs down in the minutiae of legislative maneuvering, the deals and rules that play such an important role of Kennedy's career (and his mastery of which is one of the keys to his influence). Even more troubling, though, is Clymer's inability to reconcile successfully the powerful senator with the dissolute personal character.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 22 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
a powerful history of both the man AND the country 14 Mar. 2001
By Calvin93 - Published on
Format: Paperback
THIS is the way high school history texts should be written. You read Clymer's bio on EMK (Edwardd M Kennedy) and, without realizing it, come away with a world of knowledge about Ted Kennedy, his brothers John and Robert, as well as almost every other relevant figure in U.S. and world history since the 1940s. By recounting the political history of the Kennedy family, and EMKs initially minor, but overall dominant, role in it, we learn about the political history of the United States in the past 50 years, and come to realize - astonishingly - that TED Kennedy is responsible for so many more accomplishments than either of his more famous brothers. More importantly, the text is a fair, objective assessment of EMK. Clymer does not shy away from the scandals like his expulsion form Harvard, the tragedy at Chappaquiddick and the rape trial of EMKs nephew in 1991. He deals with these issues head on, in detail, and lets the reader decide how to judge Kennedy - framing the paradox that IS Ted Kennedy - a man who has deal with more personal tragedy than most Shakespearean characters and sporadic personal failings, but who has spent 5 decades shaping US policy on domestic and international issues. There are so many great details in this book about JFKs early campaigns, the 1960 presidential election, Ted's Senate races in '62 and '64, the 1968 presidential election, Ted's work in the Senate in the 70s and international human rights efforts in Poland, Soviet Union, and South Africa, the 1979-80 presidential campaign, the Bork and Thomas Supreme Court nominations, and his work under Reagan, Bush and Clinton. You learn so much about the different presidencies and the leaders in Congress and US history that you cannot help but feel edified. This book is not a cheering section for EMK, but an articulate, thoughtful, objective history with just the perfect blend of detail, inertia and humor. Should be the standard for political biographies.
25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Insightful! 23 Nov. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Finally a work on Teddy Kennedy that is not worshipful or hateful. It is a fascinating and objective look at a man who has shaped American domestic politics for the past 40 years. JFK and RFK may be the martyrs but EMK is the one who has had the most impact!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Compelling Bio of a Complicated Man 10 Nov. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Picking up this dense portrait of the senior senator from Massachusetts, many readers would be tempted to turn straight to Chapter 12: Chappaquiddick. But that would be missing the point. Clymer, a veteran New York Times correspondent, does present a detailed account of the 1969 Martha's Vineyard accident that left Mary Jo Kopechne dead.
And the book includes key lowlights such as Kennedy's expulsion from Harvard for cheating and the night in 1991 when he rousted two young nephews out of bed for a night of drinking that led to rape charges against one of them, William Kennedy Smith (who was later acquitted).
What is remarkable is that despite these foibles and his family's tragedies, Kennedy has emerged as one of the era's most effective lawmakers, a champion of causes such as health care and civil rights.
Though Clymer occasionally gets bogged down in minutiae, he nevertheless gives us a readable and worthy account of a flawed and fascinating politician.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Superb Biography 2 Nov. 2000
By Robin Orlowski - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Don't believe the hype generated by the right wing, Kennedy is a superb legislator and should rank as one of the nation's great patriots.
As an unflinching voice for the underserved and underepresented, Kennedy is the epitomy of compassion at a time when members of his own party (the New Democrats)have appropriated some (but not all!) of the GOP's reactionary social polices. More than anybody, Kennedy deserves credit for staving off Newt and Trent's assuault on America and working to expand existing civil rights statues.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The best biography of a current office holder I've ever read 1 April 2000
By John B. Maggiore - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I've often found that biographies are best written after the subject's career has finished. Since Ted Kennedy's career has no end in sight, that poses a problem for anyone wanting to paint this work in progress. Adam Clymer succeeds. First, he focuses on Kennedy's substantive accomplishments rather than the gossip that more interests writers like Joe McGinniss (The Last Brother) or Richard Burke (The Senator). Second, he isolates aspects of Kennedy's legislative style, such as giving credit to others and working across party lines, that serve as generalizable lessons. Third, though the book is fairly long, it moves quickly. Ted Kennedy already has a much longer public life than most, so there is much more to write about. Clymer doesn't make the mistake of wallowing in unnecessary details just to show us all how much research he did. Fourth, although Clymer does not gloss over Kennedy's shortcomings, he is also open in his admiration of Kennedy's accomplishments. The last several pages compare both, and then the whole package against other accomplishments of great senators. The message is clear that Ted Kennedy is a titan. The evidence is hard to refute. Critics of Kennedy differ on issues of fundamental value rather than issues of effectiveness or sheer impact. Ted Kennedy deserves a biography like this, and those of us interested in his long career deserve to read it.
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