OPINION: Kennedy dynasty’s downfall is compelling reading

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
John F. Kennedy with his brother Robert in 1955.
Camera IconJohn F. Kennedy with his brother Robert in 1955. Credit: Three Lions/Getty Images

I love reading about people.

And there are some great biographies and autobiographies doing the rounds at the moment.

I picked up quite a thick paperback the other day about the famous American political family, the Kennedys.

Now, I consider myself to be a pretty slow reader, but I am already three-quarters through.

The Kennedy Curse (also known as The House of Kennedy) covers the lives of family members, focusing on those more significant, starting with Joe, the father, through to JFK, Bobby, and Ted.

Stemming from Irish immigrants, the Kennedys are considered to be the closest family to royal status in the United States.

Father, Joe, simply worked his way up in the Irish American community, before investing his hard earned money wisely, and I am talking about using a bit of streetwise strategy too.

He also positioned himself well in society by wooing and then, subsequently, marrying Rose Fitzgerald, who was the daughter of a Boston mayor.

In the early days, Joe embarked on becoming a Hollywood mogul.

He did quite well, but eventually decided that politics was his game — hence the start of the Kennedy dynasty.

A job as ambassador to Great Britain was an early feather in his cap, before he metaphorically stabbed himself in the foot when he tried to arrange a meeting with Adolf Hitler shortly before war broke out.

This bad error of judgment saw Joe and his family of nine abruptly returned to the US.

When his aspirations of one day becoming president were dashed, he set about grooming his firstborn, Joseph. However, the army pilot’s death in combat saw the baton passed on to next-in-line John (a.k.a Jack).

After getting to the Oval Office by the narrowest of margins, JFK’s reign was brought to an abrupt end when he was assassinated.

Assassination also ended Bobby’s aspirations.

Joe Senior’s mantra for the Kennedy family, “win at all costs”, has certainly been expensive.

And the bad luck didn’t stop there.

In 1999, John Kennedy Junior plunged to his death in a light aircraft with his new wife. This book is a great read, especially if you don’t know much about this incredible family. Along with the tragedies, there is also a number of fascinating family tales that would alone make the subject for separate books or film scripts.

The patriarchal dominance, skulduggery and underhandedness at times, along with the incessant infidelity, while still building families is absorbing reading.

Despite all this, the dynasty survives.

Recent media reports have highlighted Joseph Patrick Kennedy III, who is a politician for Massachusetts, with some recent expectation centred around JFK’s grandson, Jack Kennedy.

* Peter Fiorenza is the host of Fiorenza on Sunday, 10am to noon on Radio MAMA.

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