Cover image for The Kennedys : America's emerald kings
The Kennedys : America's emerald kings
Maier, Thomas, 1956-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Basic Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
xxi, 676 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E843 .M35 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E843 .M35 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E843 .M35 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
E843 .M35 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
E843 .M35 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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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 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.

Author Notes

Thomas Maier is a staff reporter at New York Newsday . He is also the author of the critically acclaimed Dr. Spock: An American Life , a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He lives in East Northport, New York.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Just when you thought there was no way to write about theennedys from a new angle, Maier comes up with one. His take is to view the family through the green prism of Ireland and, by extension, to examine their relationship to the Roman Catholic Church. This makes for surprisingly fresh reading. Although many of the stories related here are familiar--Joeennedy's attempts to break into Brahmin society, the impact on the family of daughterathleen's penchant for Protestant men--Maier deepens the account by also bringing up less discussed incidents, such as Congressmanohnennedy's trip to Ireland (andackie's, four years after the assassination) and how both the Catholic faith andFK's Irish heritage played integral parts at the president's funeral. Nor does the story end with the Camelot days.eanennedy Smith, the eighth child in the family, served as ambassador to Ireland, and Bobbyennedy's daughter, Courtney, married Paul Hill, wrongly imprisoned by the police for terrorism. This extremely readable biography not only examines one particular immigrant family but also sheds light on the larger story of Irish Americans from the early twentieth century onward. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

With Doris Kearns Goodwin's The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys out of favor and discredited by charges of plagiarism, the door is open and the time is right for another serious, multigenerational history of America's most fabled clan. Newsday reporter Maier (Dr. Spock: An American Life) answers the need quite well with this fascinating account, which emphasizes the family's roots as Catholics and products of the Irish diaspora. Unlike Ed Klein's provocative The Kennedy Curse, this thoughtful study does not dwell on the sensational. Maier goes to the heart of the Kennedys' spiritual and tribal identity in order to define and explain a range of subplots within the family saga. For example, one sees Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy's appeasement of the Nazis and his general insensitivity to the plight of Europe's Jews during the late 1930s in fuller colors than before when one realizes the context in which he operated and the tradition out of which he sprang, rich with ancient, profound and unapologetic anti-Semitism. (JPK also clung to the traditional Irish-Catholic bias against Great Britain.) Maier likewise supplies a masterful account of the culture and habits related to Boston's distinctly Irish-Catholic ward politics, first experienced by young JFK in 1946. And he goes on to explore conservative Catholic anger over JFK's moves to "appease"-in the opinion of the Jesuit magazine America-anti-Catholic bigots during the 1960 election. This is all very fertile ground seeded, to a great extent, with items quite rare in recent Kennedy scholarship: new information mingled with genuine insight. It's an admirable job overall. 32 pages of photos not seen by PW. (Oct. 15) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xv
Part I From Ireland to Irish-American
1 The Boys of Wexfordp. 3
2 Heirs of Brian Borup. 10
3 The Starvationp. 18
4 American Wakep. 24
5 Brahmins and Bigotryp. 35
6 The Long Climb to Acceptancep. 51
7 The Family Enterprisep. 67
8 Hard Lessonsp. 78
Part II The Family Faith
9 Happy Warriorsp. 95
10 An Irishman in the Court of St. Jamesp. 113
11 The Vatican Go-Betweenp. 123
12 Tortured Soulsp. 139
13 Hero Worshipp. 160
14 Blood Brothersp. 173
15 A Lighter Shade of Greenp. 191
16 Eirep. 214
Part III Rise to the Presidency
17 The Irish Brahminp. 235
18 A Child of Fatep. 249
19 Articles of Faithp. 266
20 A Nation of Immigrantsp. 277
21 Matters of Church and Statep. 292
22 A Friend in Romep. 298
23 Primary Lessonsp. 313
24 West Virginiap. 326
25 The Fall, 1960p. 339
Part IV The Rites of Power
26 A Catholic in the White Housep. 361
27 Holy Warsp. 374
28 Conversion and Subversionp. 386
29 The Two Johnsp. 394
30 Doing the Right Thingp. 409
31 In the Springtimep. 428
32 The Ritual of Mourningp. 444
Part V The Emerald Thread
33 A Living Woundp. 467
34 The Awful Grace of Godp. 485
35 The Politics of Outsidersp. 499
36 The Ghosts of Camelotp. 519
37 Last Hurrahsp. 535
38 A Matter of Faithp. 550
39 Looking Backward and Forwardp. 561
40 Principles of Peacep. 572
41 Legaciesp. 589
A Note on Sourcesp. 603
Selected Bibliographyp. 637
About the Authorp. 655
Indexp. 657