A doorstop of a melodrama. Kennedy die-hards will love it.




The prolific celebrity biographer delivers another Kennedy family saga, this time focusing on the 29 individuals comprising the “third generation” of the famed clan.

In this sprawling post-Camelot account, Taraborrelli (Jackie, Janet & Lee: The Secret Lives of Janet Auchincloss and Her Daughters Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwill, 2018, etc.) details the lives of the third generation—the grandchildren of Joe and Rose Kennedy—as they have tried to live up to Kennedy values (honor, family, loyalty) while failing to cope with the murders of John F. (1963) and Bobby (1968). Growing up in families that never discussed the assassinations among themselves and offered few healing mechanisms to their children, the young heirs often self-medicated with alcohol and drugs. Innumerable infidelities, confrontations, and divorces run through this soap opera, which teems with intimate views of angry, heavy-drinking matriarch Ethel, mother of Bobby’s 11 children; Ted, who kept the family together, and his wife, Joan, both “unpredictable, alcoholic parents”; and the smiling, seemingly happy children, who struggled inside, some wanting “anything other than to be Kennedys.” Taraborrelli rehashes Bobby’s son Michael’s affair with a 16-year-old babysitter; the murder conviction of Ethel’s nephew Michael Skakel; David Kennedy’s death by cocaine overdose; JFK Jr.’s death in a plane crash, and so on. “Terrible things have happened to the Kennedys,” writes the author, “sometimes by fate and circumstance, sometimes by their own volition.” Taraborrelli’s depictions of Caroline’s therapy as a child and the family’s expectation that Bobby Jr., who made drug runs to Harlem, would run for president, are unsettling. All of this is recounted against the glitz, wealth, and historical role of the family, the ever present paparazzi, the family pressure to excel, and the children’s careers in politics and other fields. No scandal or luxurious dining room goes overlooked.

A doorstop of a melodrama. Kennedy die-hards will love it.

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17406-2

Page Count: 624

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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