The Patriarch by David Nasaw
The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy

85%

11 Critic Reviews

“David Nasaw has succeeded in bringing Joseph P. Kennedy in The Patriarch to life in chilling, in-depth color.”
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalist
New York Times Ten Best Books of 2012

“Riveting…The Patriarch is a book hard to put down.”  – Christopher Buckley, The New York Times Book Review

In this magisterial new work The Patriarch, the celebrated historian David Nasaw tells the full story of Joseph P. Kennedy, the founder of the twentieth century's most famous political dynasty. Nasaw—the only biographer granted unrestricted access to the Joseph P. Kennedy papers in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library—tracks Kennedy's astonishing passage from East Boston outsider to supreme Washington insider. Kennedy's seemingly limitless ambition drove his career to the pinnacles of success as a banker, World War I shipyard manager, Hollywood studio head, broker, Wall Street operator, New Deal presidential adviser, and founding chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. His astounding fall from grace into ignominy did not come until the years leading up to and following America's entry into the Second World War, when the antiwar position he took as the first Irish American ambassador to London made him the subject of White House ire and popular distaste.

The Patriarch is a story not only of one of the twentieth century's wealthiest and most powerful Americans, but also of the family he raised and the children who completed the journey he had begun. Of the many roles Kennedy held, that of father was most dear to him. The tragedies that befell his family marked his final years with unspeakable suffering.

The Patriarch looks beyond the popularly held portrait of Kennedy to answer the many questions about his life, times, and legacy that have continued to haunt the historical record. Was Joseph P. Kennedy an appeaser and isolationist, an anti-Semite and a Nazi sympathizer, a stock swindler, a bootlegger, and a colleague of mobsters? What was the nature of his relationship with his wife, Rose? Why did he have his daughter Rosemary lobotomized? Why did he oppose the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, the Korean War, and American assistance to the French in Vietnam? What was his relationship to J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI? Did he push his second son into politics and then buy his elections for him?

In this pioneering biography, Nasaw draws on never-before-published materials from archives on three continents and interviews with Kennedy family members and friends to tell the life story of a man who participated in the major events of his times: the booms and busts, the Depression and the New Deal, two world wars and a cold war, and the birth of the New Frontier. In studying Kennedy's life, we relive with him the history of the American Century.
 

About David Nasaw

See more books from this Author
David Nasaw is an associate professor of history at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York, and author of Schooled to Order. He lives in New York City with his wife, Dinitia Smith, and their twin sons, Daniel and Peter.
 
Published November 13, 2012 by Penguin Books. 896 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon12
Peak Rank on Dec 09 2012
icon6
Weeks as Bestseller
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for The Patriarch
All: 11 | Positive: 9 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Oct 15 2012

Sprawling, highly readable biography of the dynast and larger-than-life figure whose presence still haunts American political life.

Read Full Review of The Patriarch: The Remarkable... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by MICHIKO KAKUTANI on Nov 29 2012

But this flat-footed, long-winded book unfortunately captures little of the extraordinary drama of his life and provides few new insights

Read Full Review of The Patriarch: The Remarkable... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by CHRISTOPHER BUCKLEY on Nov 15 2012

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.

Read Full Review of The Patriarch: The Remarkable... | See more reviews from NY Times

Publishers Weekly

Below average
on Oct 01 2012

... the book is much too long and oddly focused...The reams of fascinating material would have been better served by more careful shaping.

Read Full Review of The Patriarch: The Remarkable... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Blog Critics

Excellent
Reviewed by Adam Henig on Dec 07 2013

In the same vein as David McCullough’s Truman or A. Scott Berg’s Lindbergh, Nasaw has produced a book that will appeal to the scholar, the book critic and, more importantly, the general reader. The book’s scholarship is unmatched and its prose flows effortlessly.

Read Full Review of The Patriarch: The Remarkable... | See more reviews from Blog Critics

NY Journal of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Ted on Nov 13 2012

“David Nasaw has succeeded in bringing Joseph P. Kennedy in The Patriarch to life in chilling, in-depth color.”

Read Full Review of The Patriarch: The Remarkable... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

WSJ online

Excellent
Reviewed by Edward Kosner on Nov 16 2012

In his panoramic book, "The Patriarch," Mr. Nasaw, the admired biographer of Andrew Carnegie and William Randolph Hearst, aims to take the portrait of Dorian Gray out of the closet and paint a more nuanced new one.

Read Full Review of The Patriarch: The Remarkable... | See more reviews from WSJ online

The Boston Globe

Excellent
Reviewed by Julia M. Klein on Nov 10 2012

What emerges is a portrait of a man who dreamt big and dared greatly, but sometimes stumbled badly.

Read Full Review of The Patriarch: The Remarkable...

Washington Independent Review of Books

Good
Reviewed by Kitty Kelley on Jan 22 2013

The Patriarch is the perfect title for the life story of Joseph Patrick Kennedy. It resounds with the drama of rolling drums to introduce a paterfamilias who created one of America’s most powerful political dynasties.

Read Full Review of The Patriarch: The Remarkable...

BuffaloNews.com

Excellent
Reviewed by EDWARD CUDDIHY on Nov 30 2012

...he has produced a biography which, despite its length and thoroughness, is bursting with popular appeal.

Read Full Review of The Patriarch: The Remarkable...

History News Network

Excellent
Reviewed by CHRISTOPHER BUCKLEY on Nov 17 2012

...is a book hard to put down, a garland not lightly bestowed on a cinder block numbering 787 pages of text.

Read Full Review of The Patriarch: The Remarkable...

Reader Rating for The Patriarch
77%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 457 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×