Dear Commons Community,
David Nasaw, the Arthur M. Schlesinger professor of history here at the CUNY Graduate Center, has just published a new biography of Joseph Kennedy entitled, The Patriarch. The New York Times has a review by Christopher Buckley. Here are several excerpts:
“Joseph Patrick Kennedy, was born in 1888 in a neighborhood now known as unfashionable East Boston. The rest, as they say, is history. In the hands of his biographer David Nasaw, it is riveting history. “The Patriarch” is a book hard to put down, a garland not lightly bestowed on a cinder block numbering 787 pages of text…
Nasaw credibly avers that he has taken forensic pains to excise anything that could not be confirmed by primary sources. I am no historian, but the evidence appears to support his claim. His research is Robert Caro-esque; barely a paragraph is not footnoted. And he is unsparing about his subject’s shortcomings, which are numerous…
As his son [John F. Kennedy] indelibly put it some months before his father was struck down: “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” One wonders what was going through the mind of the patriarch, sitting a few feet away listening to that soaring sentiment as a fourth-generation Kennedy became president of the United States. After coming to know him over the course of this brilliant, compelling book, the reader might suspect that he was thinking he had done more than enough for his country. But the gods would demand even more.”
Great review and congratulations to David Nasaw!