Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy
By the Team at the Boston Globe Edited by Peter S. Canellos Simon & Schuster; 464 pages
Had the last chapter in Ted Kennedy's story been written a generation ago, it would have been a cautionary tale: the scandal-scarred prodigal son who, consigned to carrying the torch of America's foremost political dynasty, extinguished it in the waters of Chappaquiddick Island. But Kennedy found redemption in a stellar second act. As the authors write, "the chubby kid in short pants who was eclipsed for so many years by his brothers" became the clan's patriarch and a champion of causes ranging from civil rights to health care--a legislative record they rank among the finest of the past century. The Globe's scribes don't whitewash Kennedy's shortcomings, devoting considerable space to his booze-fueled carousing and the car accident that killed Mary Jo Kopechne. With Kennedy battling brain cancer, the book--whose title was borrowed from a Churchill biography and bestowed on Ted by John McCain--is a timely if not revelatory portrait of a flawed figure who "never expected to become the custodian of his family's sorrows" but found a way to transcend the role.
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