Joseph P. Kennedy
I just finished rereading the wonderful biography of Joseph P. Kennedy by David Nasaw. Kennedy, the father of John F. Kennedy, has been pretty much forgotten. If he is remembered, it is a bootlegger and someone who worked with organized crime. Both charges are false.
He was born in East Boston at a time when the “proper Bostonians” looked down their nose at Irish Catholics. He graduated from Harvard and began his career in Boston. He moved to New York and made a fortune on Wall Street. Next he headed to Hollywood. At one point he was in charge of three different movie studios. With his fortune made, he moved to politics. He was a key advisor to Franklin Roosevelt. After serving in the administration, he was named ambassador to England. He was mentioned as a presidential candidate in 1940 if Roosevelt didn’t run for a third term. Eventually his views on appeasement destroyed his career. He then set about creating a political dynasty and perhaps the closet thing we have ever had to a royal family.
He certainly had his share of faults but his rise from East Boston to become one of the biggest movers and shaker of the 20th century is a compelling story.
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