He was the patriarch of America's greatest political dynasty, a maker of Hollywood movies, a business genius, and our ambassador to England during World War II.
But for all his public activities, Joseph Patrick Kennedy has remained an elusive figure whose dreams of advancement for his nine children were matched only by his extraordinary personal ambition and shrewd financial skills.
Drawing on unrestricted and exclusive access to Kennedy's papers, historian David Nasaw digs deep into both the public and private man in a discussion of his new book, The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy on Tuesday, December 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
The life of Joseph Patrick Kennedy spanned the First World War, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, the Second World War, and the Cold War. He was, of course, the father of President John F. Kennedy and senators Robert and Edward Kennedy.
But though his incredible life encompasses the very heart of the American century, Kennedy for decades has remained shrouded in rumor and prejudice.
In his book Nasaw unearths a man far more complicated than the popular portrait. Was Kennedy an appeaser and isolationist, an anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer, a stock swindler, a bootlegger, and a colleague of mobsters? Did he push his second son into politics and then buy his elections for him?
Why did he have his daughter Rosemary lobotomized? Why did he oppose the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, the Korean War, and American assistance to the French in Vietnam? What was his relationship to J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI?
And what was his influence on his son's presidency?
Nasaw is Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Distinguished Professor of History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Among his books are The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst, Andrew Carnegie, and Going Out: The Rise and Fall of Public Amusements.
Major funding for programs at the Kansas City Public Library is provided by a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th & Baltimore.