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Summary

Who are the Kennedys? Are they the brilliant, heroic, extraordinary people their admirers believe them to be? Or are they arrogant, competitive, self-absorbed children of a willful and immensely rich patriarch, as their detractors claim? In fact, they are all of these things, and more.

Years in the making, based on hundreds of interviews with family members and associates and extensive research into archives and sources unused until now, this is the nationwide best—seller whose very publication caused an uproar in the press. The first and only book to fully penetrate the Kennedy inner sanctum and reveal the true, all too human saga behind America’s most famous family.

©1984 Peter Collier and David Horowitz (P)1990 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic reviews

"It's a saga for sure, but between these covers, the mythology of the name is blown away." ( Forbes)

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Comprehensive family history

This book has a focus on the personal family history of the Kennedys. If you are looking for information on Bay of Pigs, Cuban missile crisis, assassinations of JFK and RFK, Chappaquiddick, etc,, in fact any individual event in the Kennedy's history, this is not the book to listen to. Most of these events receive little more than a few sentences. If you want a basic overview of family life then this is ok.

The final three hours are quite boring as they focus on the more recent Kennedys in the 80s who are relatively uninteresting compared with their more well known predecessors and don't seem to have done very much except getting wasted on drugs.

The main criticism of the book is that it tends to show the Kennedys as being little more than gung-ho airheads. I have listened to other Kennedy books which gave a much more balanced and realistic biography. This isn't helped by the poor reading. Christopher Hurt probably got the job reading this one as he does a passable impersonation of JFK, but he rattles through at a fair pace, breezily describing great events of history and deep personal tragedy alike as though he's reading some light romantic fiction.

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  • Bowers
  • 19-11-12

Money Doesn't Buy Happiness

The Kennedys: An American Drama is a gripping history about America’s most prominent political family in the last century. The story begins with their earliest ancestor, Patrick Kennedy arrival from Ireland. The center of the story is his grandson, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, the patriarch that established the family wealth and the dream of a Presidential dynasty.

The authors, Peter Collier and David Horowitz provide an intimate look into the life of this family. This book is not hagiography nor simple minded Kennedy bashing. None the less, given the worship of the Kennedy’s, the book reveals an empty pursuit of power by JFK, Robert and Teddy aa well as reckless personal lives. Robert Kennedy seems to have been the true believer among the men. Collier and Horowitz follows the Kennedy legacy into the lost next generation trying to live with the tragedy of their dead parents. This is a satisfying history of a modern American tragedy.

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  • SBG
  • 17-09-19

Well-written (and narrated) Kennedy history.

I've been on a bit of a Kennedy binge, for reasons I cannot fully comprehend. This one (which was referenced in another, lesser, Kennedy tome) was quite a surprise -- very well written, witty, insightful, hampered by neither the bile nor the gushing that usually leave their mark on Kennedy histories. I also have to throw in a huge round of applause for Christopher Hurt, who does a remarkable job with the narration. His impersonations are completely spot-on (I admit to embarrassing bursts of laughter in the street), but always respectful and never parodic. He even pronounces French words correctly -- an (English-language) audiobook miracle. The only term he mispronounced, oddly, was Skakel (which he rhymed with "spackle")--for which he is eminently forgiven. A highly recommended listen in every respect.

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  • Everard (Desert Islander)
  • 25-10-20

An enjoyable listen, money well spent.

Surprisingly easy and pleasant to listen to. Is this because it is very well written, very well read, or both? See for yourself. Not just Part 3. All of it!

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  • susan McMullen
  • 15-10-20

Tragic story.

Reader was very effective, but the language, though probably the hard truth was hard for me. I feel it was a true insight into the Kennedy family but I came away knowing this was a sad chapter in history.

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  • DebHumm
  • 24-11-19

More Insight, Less Burnishing

I’ve read my share of Kennedyana, my favorite being Doris Kearns Goodwin’s. Until now. Big surprise for me was the inter generational influence of Lem Billings. Be sure to listen to the bibliography explanation about the difficulty in cracking the Kennedy hold on its image. David Kennedy spent time being interviewed for this book, got flack for “treason” by the Fam and then succumbed tragically.