I’m always up for book on the Kennedys. But for some reason, I kept putting off reading The House of Kennedy by James Patterson and Cynthia Fagen (Amazon). I must have checked it out three times from the library but just always found other books to read instead. After all, I just finished reading an excellent volume one of a two-part biography of JFK not too long ago (review to be found here), could there possibly be something about the Kennedys that I did not already know?
“Across decades and generations, the Kennedys have been a family of charismatic adventurers, raised to take risks and excel. Their name is synonymous with American royalty. Their commitment to public service is legendary. But, for all the successes, the family has been blighted by assassinations, fatal accidents, drug and alcohol abuse and sex scandals.
To this day, the Kennedys occupy a unique, contradictory place in the world’s imagination: at once familiar and unknowable; charmed and cursed. The House of Kennedy is a revealing, fascinating account of America’s most famous family, as told by the world’s most trusted storyteller.”
First off, let me say that I think I know why James Patterson is such a massive best selling author: he knows how to draw the reader in and writes compelling prose. But this is a work of non-fiction that reads rather like a fiction novel. Sometimes dialogue is used to further the narrative, and unless it came from oral histories, Patterson made them up. I’m not a big fan of historians using that style, but Patterson is no historian, so I let that slide. The House of Kennedy starts with the patriarch, Joseph P. Kennedy and all his success and misdeeds, and then moves on to the tragic tales of Joe Jr. and sister Kathleen, nicknamed Kick. Then it’s on to Robert and Ted Kennedy, followed by the next generation of Kennedys and their scandals or missteps. There’s even a mention of the fourth generation of Kennedys with the death of one of Ethel and Robert Kennedy’s grandchildren, but the book really ends with the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr. in 1999. Similar territory was covered by The Kennedy Heirs, published in 2019 (read my review here).
There’s really nothing new to offer on the Kennedys in terms of content for The House of Kennedy, but that’s not to say it’s not interesting. There are a ton of pictures, and copious endnotes, which I appreciated after reading something that could be described as a docu-drama. Unless you’ve read the really important biographies of the Kennedys done over the years, some of this information would be new to the reader. But for me, it was just a rehashing of what I had already read about years before.
This is the 3rd library book I’ve read this year as part of my Library Love Reading Challenge.
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Great review, this sounds like an interestinf read!
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