Last Lion by Peter S. Canellos
The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy

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Synopsis

No figure in American public life has had such great expectations thrust upon him, or has responded so poorly. But Ted Kennedy -- the youngest of the Kennedy children and the son who felt the least pressure to satisfy his father's enormous ambitions -- would go on to live a life that no one could have predicted: dismissed as a spent force in politics by the time he reached middle age, Ted became the most powerful senator of the last half century and the nation's keeper of traditional liberalism.

As Peter S. Canellos and his team of Boston Globe reporters show in this revealing and intimate biography, the gregarious, pudgy, and least academically successful of the Kennedy boys has witnessed greater tragedy and suffered greater pressure than any of his siblings. At the age of thirty-six, Ted Kennedy found himself the last brother, the champion of a generation's dreams and ambitions. He would be expected to give the nation the confidence to confront its problems and to build a fairer society at home and abroad.

He quickly failed in spectacular fashion. Late one night in the summer of 1969, he left the scene of a fatal automobile accident on Chappaquiddick Island. The death there of a young woman from his brother's campaign would haunt and ultimately doom his presidential ambitions. Political rivals turned his all-too-human failings -- drinking, philandering, and divorce -- into a condemnation of his liberal politics.

But as the presidency eluded his grasp, Kennedy was finally liberated from the expectations of others, free to become his own man. Once a symbol of youthful folly and nepotism, he transformed himself in his later years into a symbol of wisdom and perseverance. He built a deeply loving marriage with his second wife, Victoria Reggie. He embraced his role as the family patriarch. And as his health failed, he anointed the young and ambitious presidential candidate Barack Obama, whom many commentators compared to his brother Jack. The Kennedy brand of liberalism was rediscovered by a new generation of Americans.

Perceptive and carefully reported, drawing heavily from candid interviews with the Kennedy family and inner circle, Last Lion captures magnificently the life and historic achievements of Ted Kennedy, as well as the personal redemption that he found.
 

About Peter S. Canellos

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Peter Canellos is the Washington bureau chief for The Boston Globe and oversees all national coverage for the paper, where he has worked since 1988 covering local, state, and national politics.
 
Published February 6, 2009 by Simon & Schuster. 512 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Last Lion

BC Books

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Last Lion chronicles the life and career of the man who perhaps is the living embodiment of the so-called "Kennedy Curse," a man who rose to power in the Senate as the youngest brother of President Kennedy, only to see JFK slain in 1963, followed by the assassination of RFK in 1968.

Apr 28 2009 | Read Full Review of Last Lion: The Fall and Rise ...

The Washington Post

In 1957 -- three years before Jack was elected president and five years before Ted entered the Senate -- the Saturday Evening Post wrote that "fervent admirers" of the Kennedys "confidently look forward to the day when Jack will be in the White House, Bobby will serve in the Cabinet as Attorney G...

Mar 29 2009 | Read Full Review of Last Lion: The Fall and Rise ...

Open Letters Monthly

Several years before his own assassination, Robert Kennedy miscalculated the precipitous change in family fortunes after Ted Kennedy broke his back in a plane crash:.

Jan 28 2013 | Read Full Review of Last Lion: The Fall and Rise ...

On The Issues

JFK and Ted are also portrayed as womanizers, which Jackie Kennedy described to Ted's wife as an "addiction" endemic to Kennedy men.

Feb 15 2015 | Read Full Review of Last Lion: The Fall and Rise ...

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