Books by Ralph G. Martin

Released: Aug. 1, 1995

Martin (Henry and Clare, 1991, etc.) adds to his portrait gallery of the rich and powerful with this stolid yet psychologically acute study of the Irish-American chieftain and his doomed clan. Previous Kennedy chroniclers like Nigel Hamilton and Thomas Reeves failed to explain how, if Joe Sr. was merely the bigoted, philandering, political puppeteer they depicted, his children could be so genuinely devoted to him. While not uncovering much new material, Martinan observer of the family since his 1960 campaign study, Front Runner, Dark Horse (with Ed Plaut)offers a more coherent explanation: For all the fear Joe inspired, he also supplied the physical affection the children did not receive from mother Rose. With his own presidential hopes dashed, he devoted his life to the careers of sons Joe Jr., Jack, Bobby, and Tedand they in turn learned to be tough (``Kennedys never cry'' was their sometimes sardonic motto) and loyal. More dangerously, in vying for Joe Sr.'s approval, the Kennedy brothers exhibited envy that, according to Martin, ``merged with their competitiveness. It spurred them on. And, finally, it killed them.'' Joe Jr., jealous of Jack's PT-109 heroics, volunteered for the risky air mission that proved fatal. Martin is less illuminating about the usual Kennedy gossip, such as Joe Sr.'s alleged Mafia contacts or Jack and Bobby's rumored affairs with Marilyn Monroe, than he is about how the brothers and their father interacted. While so politically attuned that they could complete each other's sentences, charming Jack and shy Bobby seldom socialized; and Bobby, while seeking to curb Ted's night-owl instincts (``he is a rascal''), also leaned on him for his optimism and sound advice on how to get along in the Senate. Neither vivid nor graceful, but at least nonjudgmental and understanding about this complex band of brothers and their father. (32 b&w photos, not seen) Read full book review >
HENRY AND CLARE by Ralph G. Martin
Released: Aug. 14, 1991

A dual biography of one of the ultimate ``power couples,'' which offers an abundance of juicy gossip leavened by some first- rate research and analysis. ``To the world,'' notes Martin (Golda, 1988; Charles & Diana, 1985, etc.), ``the Luces represented the peak of power, the ultimate American dream''—but, as he constantly stresses, beneath the glittering facade they endured a frequently miserable mismatch ``tarnished by constant competition, sharp cuts, and deep hurt.'' On the one hand there was the conscientious, shy, missionaries' son who co-founded (at 24) and remained the controlling force of Time Inc. On the other, the vigorous, self-centered woman who rose above childhood poverty and a dreadful first marriage to shine as, successively, magazine editor, playwright, congresswoman, and ambassador, while remaining deeply envious of her husband's prestige. Although marred by clumsy editing, with anecdotes repeated two, often three, times, and far too many ponderous summations about this ``royal American marriage,'' the book is distinguished by its balance and extensive research. There are judicious analyses of the couple's various milieus, especially within Time Inc. (where Henry pledged to ``give the public the truth we think it must have'') and the political sphere, yet the emphasis is decidedly on the personal peregrinations of a couple who seem to sleep with everyone but each other. We get the high- powered world of Presidents, kings, and popes, along with a laundry list of the powerful men rumored to have bedded the energetic Clare—Bernard Baruch, Joe Kennedy, Randolph Churchill, Lord Beaverbrook, and Lyndon Johnson, to name just a few. The portrait that emerges is of an admirable yet appalling couple who found mutual intellectual stimulation cold comfort for emotional emptiness. Compelling, despite its flaws, with much scandalous detail. (Two 16-page photo inserts—not seen.) Read full book review >