BY SENATOR EDWARD M. KENNEDY
TRUE COMPASS follows so soon after, with fresh memories of Ted Kennedy’s recent illness and death. With his funeral still fresh in our minds, this memoir is harder to read, as the memories the reader has are still so new and painfully alive. And so this book at this time is truly more than a casual read; it is a personal experience.
I found the book to be an amazingly hypnotic read, divided into two main parts, written in a narrative way that made it easy to read and hard to put down. One part tells of the Kennedy family while the other is fairly strictly about Ted Kennedy’s work over the past 47 years in the U. S. Senate.
The Kennedy family story of course has to be told and include the part that the head of the family, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. played in what many American call “our royal family” and their rise to fame. The Kennedy family was and still is an extremely wealthy family. Much of the personal part of the memoir we read with awe at the lifestyle the family lived and maintains till this day. There is much truthfulness, often said with a bit of humor, about the rough housing, sports loving, sailing family gatherings. References to the family traveling to Europe and elsewhere as if it were no more than any American family would do are stated without pretension but merely as everyday facts.
The not so pretty parts are also included although not in as great a detail. Memories of the nine children, their lives as they grew including marriages, and divorce—Senator Kennedy’s own recounting even though not in great detail, of the events of Chappaquiddick and the accident including its consequences and partial responsibility on his part are there. He explained in a very straightforward manner about his divorce while he detailed with loving words the marriage to his second wife. None of this is secret, all of it is part of most of our own personal knowledge, and yet hearing it from the Senator himself, seems to feed the desire we Americans have to be part of this family’s inner most secrets. The tragedies of the family are not brushed aside. The never ending heartbreak of events that began with the death of Ted’s brother Joseph in WWII, and the mental illness of his sister, Rosemary, lead up to the fateful assassinations of both brothers, President John F. Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy in his pursuit for the presidency. The sadness in his telling of John Jr.’s plane crash just adds to the heartbreak this family has been dealt and the American people have lived though with this family.
The other part elaborates on Kennedy’s time in the U. S. Senate which ranges from periods of pure hatred, especially when he was called a “murderer”, to his campaigns, and the foes he dealt with in standing up for his liberal views with great pride. He goes into his support of the working people, minorities, civil rights, and of course, health care.
Kennedy doesn’t disappoint when it comes to talking about rivals, and some inside information he surely seems to be delighted to share. Information like how poorly he felt that Reagan and George W. Bush ran the country. He is extremely, but not surprisingly, harsh in his discussion of Jimmy Carter. Although he touches on the relationship between his brother Robert and Lyndon Johnson, he doesn’t go in depth into the real distaste between the two but he doesn’t shy away from the inaccurate image some of the public had for his brother Robert as a cold blooded and hard hearted leader. This truly annoyed and hurt Ted Kennedy and he makes it known. Kennedy does also present many stories that were amusing, surprising, and informational as well as entertaining about individuals, relationships, and incidents.
However, not surprisingly, health care is a strong and well-delivered message in TRUE COMPASS. The current battle at stake over individuals’ health care is well served by this book. I found out that there is even a chance that the bill if and when it passes, may be named after the man who fought so long for health reform. Ted Kennedy makes no apologies and tell in the book that this current issue of health care reform is the battle he was waging most recently in Congress and explains what has gone wrong in it not getting passed in earlier years but emphasizes how important the bill is now!
In closing, the book is not a statement on your politics or how you feel toward Ted Kennedy but rather a look back at a hugely influential man and his family and what they have given to our country. Working with Ron Powers, Powers did have to reel Kennedy in on this and although he isn’t given up front billing, he did play a big part in the writing of this book and that is acknowledged by Senator Kennedy at length inside the book. If you read a lot about politics or not, this IS an amazingly interesting book and like him or not, you can’t help but be interested in his story. Senator Kennedy, I applaud you, on a personal level, for what I feel was a truthfully written memoir and one that should make every American think…. and harkens back to your brother’s inaugural speech when he asked “..Ask not what your country can do for you…” as we should all be asking ….Karen Haney, October, 2009
Thanks to Kelly and the Hachette Book Group
I am honored to have three copies of this
phenomenal book to give away.
Thanks to Anna and the Hachette Book Group
I am honored to have three copies of this
phenomenal audio book to give away.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!