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The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings: A Five-Generation History of the Ultimate Irish-Catholic Family

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Meticulously researched both here and abroad, The Kennedys examines the Kennedy's as exemplars of the Irish Catholic experience. Beginning with Patrick Kennedy's arrival in the Brahmin world of Boston in 1848, Maier delves into the deeper currents of the often spectacular Kennedy story, and the ways in which their immigrant background shaped their values-and in turn twenti Meticulously researched both here and abroad, The Kennedys examines the Kennedy's as exemplars of the Irish Catholic experience. Beginning with Patrick Kennedy's arrival in the Brahmin world of Boston in 1848, Maier delves into the deeper currents of the often spectacular Kennedy story, and the ways in which their immigrant background shaped their values-and in turn twentieth-century America-for over five generations. As the first and only Roman Catholic ever elected to high national office in this country, JFK's pioneering campaign for president rested on a tradition of navigating a cultural divide that began when Joseph Kennedy shed the brogues of the old country in order to get ahead on Wall Street. Whether studied exercise in cultural self-denial or sheer pragmatism, their movements mirror that of countless of other, albeit less storied, American families. But as much as the Kennedys distanced themselves from their religion and ethnic heritage on the public stage, Maier shows how Irish Catholicism informed many of their most well-known political decisions and stances. From their support of civil rights, to Joe Kennedy's tight relationship with Pope Pius XII and FDR, the impact of their personal family history on the national scene is without question-and makes for an immensely compelling narrative. Bringing together extensive new research in both Ireland and the United States, several exclusive interviews, as well as his own perspective as an Irish-American, Maier's original approach to the Kennedy era brilliantly illustrates the defining role of the immigrant experience for the country's foremost political dynasty.


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Meticulously researched both here and abroad, The Kennedys examines the Kennedy's as exemplars of the Irish Catholic experience. Beginning with Patrick Kennedy's arrival in the Brahmin world of Boston in 1848, Maier delves into the deeper currents of the often spectacular Kennedy story, and the ways in which their immigrant background shaped their values-and in turn twenti Meticulously researched both here and abroad, The Kennedys examines the Kennedy's as exemplars of the Irish Catholic experience. Beginning with Patrick Kennedy's arrival in the Brahmin world of Boston in 1848, Maier delves into the deeper currents of the often spectacular Kennedy story, and the ways in which their immigrant background shaped their values-and in turn twentieth-century America-for over five generations. As the first and only Roman Catholic ever elected to high national office in this country, JFK's pioneering campaign for president rested on a tradition of navigating a cultural divide that began when Joseph Kennedy shed the brogues of the old country in order to get ahead on Wall Street. Whether studied exercise in cultural self-denial or sheer pragmatism, their movements mirror that of countless of other, albeit less storied, American families. But as much as the Kennedys distanced themselves from their religion and ethnic heritage on the public stage, Maier shows how Irish Catholicism informed many of their most well-known political decisions and stances. From their support of civil rights, to Joe Kennedy's tight relationship with Pope Pius XII and FDR, the impact of their personal family history on the national scene is without question-and makes for an immensely compelling narrative. Bringing together extensive new research in both Ireland and the United States, several exclusive interviews, as well as his own perspective as an Irish-American, Maier's original approach to the Kennedy era brilliantly illustrates the defining role of the immigrant experience for the country's foremost political dynasty.

30 review for The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings: A Five-Generation History of the Ultimate Irish-Catholic Family

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Marie

    3.5-4 stars I don't think it's fair to call this a five-generation history when its main focus is clearly Joe and John and, to a slightly lesser extent, Bobby. It's understandable, of course, but using the subtitle of "A Five-Generation History of the Ultimate Irish-Catholic Family" feels disingenuous when all members don't get the same amount of attention. Yes, it's an enormous family. I dabble in genealogy, I understand the issues with that. But as we followed Patrick and Bridget Murphy Kennedy 3.5-4 stars I don't think it's fair to call this a five-generation history when its main focus is clearly Joe and John and, to a slightly lesser extent, Bobby. It's understandable, of course, but using the subtitle of "A Five-Generation History of the Ultimate Irish-Catholic Family" feels disingenuous when all members don't get the same amount of attention. Yes, it's an enormous family. I dabble in genealogy, I understand the issues with that. But as we followed Patrick and Bridget Murphy Kennedy to America from Ireland, and we saw PJ Kennedy's rise among the Boston Democrats and his son Joseph's own impact on American and world politics from the 1930s-1960s, the book seemed to narrow in its scope. On the one hand, how could it not? The sprawling lines of such a large family would threaten any attempt at an overlying plot thread. But to then reach Joe and Rose's nine children and largely ignore several of them? Unacceptable. Joe Jr died young, Kathleen died young, and we all know what happened to Jack and Bobby. They all received solid coverage, as did Ted and, later, Jean. Rosemary's lobotomy and subsequent shunting aside was made clear, but the author seemed uninterested in pursuing anything else about her. I don't remember hearing much about Eunice beyond her marriage to Sargent Shriver, whose name was bantered about as he worked with the brothers' political campaigns; I was expecting more about the Special Olympics, I think. Similarly, I don't remember anything about Pat besides her marriage to Peter Lawson. Of course, it's entirely possible that I'm simply misremembering what I've heard over the last few days. The fifth-generation area of the book stuck to John and Bobby's children which, again, is understandable but also lends it an air of being incomplete. If you're going to write a five-generation history, you might wish to cover all of the people in those generations. Or at least I would. With that said, this was a very good book in the sense that it gave a solid overview of the family's influence alongside the strength of their ties to Catholicism and their ancestral home. The various scandals and tragedies were glossed over more than I'm used to, but this isn't a tell-all or tabloid sort of book. My favorite parts included Jack's trip to Ireland in 1963 and Jean's work as US ambassador to Ireland with the Clinton administration. ----- Narrator issues: - it's RO-sevelt, not ROO-sevelt, despite what the spelling may make you think - these people are "confidants", rather than "confidents" At least it's not like you read for a living or anything. *This book appears on the assholes-with-money shelf thanks to Joseph Kennedy*

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bookish

    The Irish Catholic family, its trials and triumphs, is all laid out in this multi-generational history, which goes back to Ireland and brings the family up to the 21st century. Thomas Maier shows how faith, clannish attitudes about political loyalty, and devotion drove not just the most politically successful generation of Kennedys—Jack, Bobby and Teddy—but the ones who gave them the chance. —John R. Bohrer (https://www.bookish.com/articles/book...) The Irish Catholic family, its trials and triumphs, is all laid out in this multi-generational history, which goes back to Ireland and brings the family up to the 21st century. Thomas Maier shows how faith, clannish attitudes about political loyalty, and devotion drove not just the most politically successful generation of Kennedys—Jack, Bobby and Teddy—but the ones who gave them the chance. —John R. Bohrer (https://www.bookish.com/articles/book...)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Craig

    I really was fascinated how much influence the Irish background really was for the Kennedys. You get hints about it in other books, but this really fills in a much needed gap in the Kennedy literature. You should read this book to get a fuller picture of the Kennedy clan.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Annie Booker

    I found this book a little draggy, perhaps because it focuses more on the political than the personal.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mavi

    Very interesting read

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mboconnor31

    Fascinating book. Originally, I picked this book for my mother who due to macular degeneration can no longer read. She asked me to find a book that would explain where the Irish came from. I chose this and it was a winner. It starts with the Kennedy clan's ancestors in Ireland and how the failure of the potato crop caused a mass exodus to the USA, including Patrick Kennedy, Joseph Kennedy's grandfather. And as the history of the dynasty unfolds you become steeped in modern history, traveling to Fascinating book. Originally, I picked this book for my mother who due to macular degeneration can no longer read. She asked me to find a book that would explain where the Irish came from. I chose this and it was a winner. It starts with the Kennedy clan's ancestors in Ireland and how the failure of the potato crop caused a mass exodus to the USA, including Patrick Kennedy, Joseph Kennedy's grandfather. And as the history of the dynasty unfolds you become steeped in modern history, traveling to England during WWII where Joseph Kennedy was Ambassador under FDR's administration to the ascent of Joseph and Rose Kennedy's son John aka Jack Fitzgerald Kennedy, JFK, to the presidency of the USA. Put your seat belt on for the Bay of Pigs, the machinations of the Roman Catholic Church and the early years of the Vietnam War.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    I made a huge mistake checking out these tapes from the library. It could be the worst 3 dollars I ever spent. Part of the problem is the mawkish reader but his style perfectly matches the nauseating narrative that I've listened to up through the first 2 tapes. So far, I haven't heard anything except the standard whining about how tough life has been for the Irish in the land that they took by slaughtering the peaceful inhabitants that had the misfortune to arrive before them. I'll give it my bes I made a huge mistake checking out these tapes from the library. It could be the worst 3 dollars I ever spent. Part of the problem is the mawkish reader but his style perfectly matches the nauseating narrative that I've listened to up through the first 2 tapes. So far, I haven't heard anything except the standard whining about how tough life has been for the Irish in the land that they took by slaughtering the peaceful inhabitants that had the misfortune to arrive before them. I'll give it my best but I don't see any chance of finishing it. Well, I got about halfway through and finally felt guilty about running up library late fees. In fairness, I will give the book credit for becoming somewhat more objective -- at times. And interesting.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    Very, very good political history book. Lots of interesting detail on politics and politicians from the 1940 Boston wards to 1960's presidential politics and more. I understand now why the Catholic church is reviled by some. (The church has been involved in politics for a long, long time in a very meddlesome manner.) Drones on a bit particularly when discussing Bobby Kennedy's piousness and towards the end when writing about JFK Jr.. But, other than that it's a very good read. Very, very good political history book. Lots of interesting detail on politics and politicians from the 1940 Boston wards to 1960's presidential politics and more. I understand now why the Catholic church is reviled by some. (The church has been involved in politics for a long, long time in a very meddlesome manner.) Drones on a bit particularly when discussing Bobby Kennedy's piousness and towards the end when writing about JFK Jr.. But, other than that it's a very good read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Annetteb

    This book fed my curiosity about the Kennedy family - a by-product of growing up in the JFK era. Though the book wasn't a great book, I learned a lot about Irish history, the K. family and the papal influence on the US political system. If there was another Kennedy book I'd surely read it and likely it wouldn't be a page turner but I'd read it anyway. This book fed my curiosity about the Kennedy family - a by-product of growing up in the JFK era. Though the book wasn't a great book, I learned a lot about Irish history, the K. family and the papal influence on the US political system. If there was another Kennedy book I'd surely read it and likely it wouldn't be a page turner but I'd read it anyway.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    750 pages long...took me probably about 3 months to finish it. Very interesting as it began with the Fitzgerald and Kennedy families in Ireland and how they ended up in America. Lots of older family history that I had not read before. Also, it did not draw out all the 'other' history that we've all either read in the past or lived through in real time. 750 pages long...took me probably about 3 months to finish it. Very interesting as it began with the Fitzgerald and Kennedy families in Ireland and how they ended up in America. Lots of older family history that I had not read before. Also, it did not draw out all the 'other' history that we've all either read in the past or lived through in real time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rafael

    This book really details the life of the how the Kennedy family created their wealth during the most difficult times in America. Good read especially detailing the family history of events with the sisters and brothers to JFK.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Scott Archer

    Superb. Even if you do not care for the Kennedy clan, this book is as much about the history of Irish Catholicism in America with ample research into the conditions in Ireland leading to the mass emigration. This is meticulous research worthy of 5 stars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ellis

    I was really surprised by this book to learn about how much Irish imigrants, and catholics, were persecuted 100-150 years ago. I'd known about John Kennedys comments on the separation of church and state, but reading this book puts that speech in a whole new context. I was really surprised by this book to learn about how much Irish imigrants, and catholics, were persecuted 100-150 years ago. I'd known about John Kennedys comments on the separation of church and state, but reading this book puts that speech in a whole new context.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    A LOT of information, but very good if you are interested in learning more abuot the Kennedys

  15. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Harless

    Loved the first half....then became pretty repetitive about the importance of Catholicism in the lives of the Kennedys

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tommie

    More information than I can possibly use about the Kennedy clan. Good book telling the story of the family from their days in Ireland as O'Kennedy up until John-John's plane crash. More information than I can possibly use about the Kennedy clan. Good book telling the story of the family from their days in Ireland as O'Kennedy up until John-John's plane crash.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hank Pharis

    This was a pretty good overview of the history of the Kennedy clan. I learned a lot of new trivia along the way but nothing especially enlightening.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Florie

    You always understand people better after learning their heritage.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alberto Lopez

    Very interesting; from discriminated minority to Camelot.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  21. 4 out of 5

    Suzettelawson60

  22. 5 out of 5

    M

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emily Humbert

  24. 5 out of 5

    IREOLUWA IKUOMOLA

  25. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Valles

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dax

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kate

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jim Hammer

  30. 5 out of 5

    Crae Feldt

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