How Joseph Kennedy Made His Fortune (Hint: It Wasn’t Bootlegging)

How Joseph Kennedy Made His Fortune (Hint: It Wasn’t Bootlegging)

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One of the greatest American political dynasties of the 20th century was funded, in part, by alcohol. Rumors have swirled for decades that Joseph P. Kennedy, whose nine children included President John F. Kennedy, and U.S. Senators Robert and Edward Kennedy, made his early fortune as a bootlegger during Prohibition.

But while the patriarch of the Kennedy clan certainly had his foibles, including playing fast and loose with the pre-1929 crash stock market, trading in illicit liquor wasn’t one of them, according to David Nasaw, author of The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy.

“As his biographer, I would have loved to have discovered that he was a bootlegger,” says Nasaw. “It would have given me all sorts of great stories. I tracked down every rumor I could find and none of them panned out. It became really clear that all of the stories about his bootlegging were just farcical.”

READ MORE: 10 Things You Should Know About Prohibition

The rumors of Kennedy, the bootlegger, didn’t surface until the late 1960s and 1970s, says Nasaw, when conspiracy theorists were looking for reasons why the mafia might have played a role in the assassination of JFK. The theory was that the president’s father had made enemies in the underworld during his days as a bootlegger.

It didn’t help that various mafia characters came out of the woodwork to back up the accusations against Kennedy. Al Capone’s piano tuner said that he overheard conversations between “Scarface” and the elder Kennedy. The ex-wife of another Chicago mobster claimed her husband used to do business with Kennedy.

Nasaw doesn’t believe these stories, mostly because Richard Nixon, when he was running against JFK in 1960, hired a team of opposition researchers to investigate the Kennedy clan.

“They found all sorts of dirt on Joe Kennedy,” says Nasaw, “but not that he was a bootlegger.”

Also, by the 1960s the elder Kennedy had held high-profile government posts as the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and then as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Kennedy was undoubtedly extensively vetted before he took those jobs, says Nasaw, and the FBI would have known if he was a rum runner.

“[Bootlegging] is the last thing he would do,” says Nasaw. “He had other ways to make money. He knew where the line was between legality and illegality. He wasn’t going to cross that line, because his children, who he lived for and hoped would be presidents and senators, were already tarred with the brush of being Irish Catholic and he wasn’t going to add to that by being indicted for bootlegging.”

READ MORE: How the Prohibition Era Spurred Organized Crime

What’s true is that Joseph Kennedy’s father, Patrick Joseph Kennedy, was originally a saloon-owner in Boston who expanded to own a whiskey importation business. The son of poor Irish immigrants and a widowed mother, Patrick Joseph Kennedy made a good living in the alcohol business and became the first Kennedy to enter politics, first as a local ward boss and then as a Massachusetts state senator.

When Prohibition became the law of the land in 1920, importers like Patrick Joseph Kennedy were allowed to keep the stores of liquor that they had already purchased. In fact, since Prohibition only banned the “manufacture, sale and transportation of intoxicating liquors,” it wasn’t illegal to drink alcohol in the 1920s.

When Nasaw tried to track down stories accusing Joseph Kennedy of bootlegging, the only account he could verify was the time he supplied free Scotch to his Harvard class reunion. But since it was his father’s Scotch, and he didn’t sell it, it wasn’t bootlegging.

The real money that Kennedy made from alcohol came later. In the fall of 1933, when it became clear that Prohibition was going to be overturned, Kennedy used his already substantial wealth and political connections to land exclusive contracts to import high-end Scotch whiskey and gin from the United Kingdom.

Those deals with top-shelf British distillers like Dewar’s and Gordon’s gin proved exceptionally lucrative. When Prohibition was lifted in December 1933, thirsty Americans bought up Scotch and gin by the case full. And when Kennedy sold his liquor franchise a decade later, he walked away with $8.2 million, more than $100 million in today’s dollars.

But even that pile of money was mere pocket change to a man who had already amassed multiple small fortunes by the time he turned 40. After gaining experience as a savvy stock trader, Kennedy became the youngest bank president in America at just 25 years old.

Then Kennedy made one of his trademark brilliant bets, buying a failing Hollywood movie studio in the 1920s and pumping out inexpensive B movies. Nasaw believes this is where Kennedy made the bulk of his millions.

“He demanded to be paid, not only in salary and expenses, but in stock options,” says Nasaw, who had full access to Kennedy’s financial records for his book. “And he drove those stock options up and down and sideways. By the time he left Hollywood in the late 1920s, he had an absolute fortune.”

READ MORE: Warning Signs Investors Missed Before the 1929 Crash

That fortune was multiplied by Kennedy’s next prescient bet. While the rest of his fellow bigshot investors were pumping money into the stock market, Kennedy saw signs that stocks were wildly overvalued. He sold off most of his stock holdings before the 1929 crash, and even better, he started shorting stocks, betting that their prices would go down. When everyone else lost their shirts on Black Tuesday, Kennedy walked away richer than ever.

As for the bootlegging rumors, Nasaw allows that there might be some truth to the idea that Kennedy struck deals with some shady individuals during his years as a whiskey and gin importer.

“It’s a nasty business,” says Nasaw. “You have to chase down contracts with restaurants and liquor stores. So there were rumors that he worked with former gangsters who had gone legit. But even if he did, that’s not bootlegging, because it was legal by then.”

It seemed as if there was a competition amongst the Kennedy men to see who could get to a specific woman first. If one of them ‘won,&rsquo it didn&rsquot perturb the other family member who would look to sleep with the lady in question anyway. It is widely believed that both John and Robert had affairs with Marilyn Monroe for example. Janet Des Rosiers claimed that John tried to bed her while she was in the midst of her affair with Joseph.

As the senior Kennedy, Joseph would have had his work cut out competing with his sons but in the case of his secretary at least, he apparently ‘held his own.&rsquo Not that Des Rosiers was the first woman who gained the affections of John after his father had already had sex with her. Marlene Dietrich was one such lady as the movie starlet had a fling with Joseph in 1938. The elder Kennedy flaunted the star in front of John whether he was trying to make his son jealous or merely inspire him is unknown.

John once said that Joseph told his sons to get laid as often as possible. The Kennedy men were open about their infidelity which was encouraged by Joseph. Dietrich later wrote that she enjoyed her relationship with Joe Kennedy and believed the feeling was mutual. She even claimed that she tried to change his mind over U.S. involvement in World War II. Kennedy was fighting against American interference, but Dietrich told him that America could not escape Hitler and the Nazis and had to act.

Disturbingly, John refused to retreat from his ambition to sleep with Dietrich and invited her over for an affair in 1963. Although she was now in her sixties, John brought her to his bedroom in the White House, and they allegedly had sex. When he asked her if she ever slept with Joseph, she lied and said no. John apparently replied: &ldquoI always knew the son of a bitch was lying.&rdquo Whatever strange relationship Joseph had with his sons, it was at least better than what he did to one of his daughters, Rosemary.

It all started with Joseph Kennedy, Sr.

Ultimately, the source of all of the Kennedy family's riches comes down to one man — Joseph Kennedy, Sr. According to Biography, the patriarch of the Kennedy family was born in working-class Boston in 1888. Though attitudes at the time worked against him because he was both a working-class upstart and an Irish Catholic, Joseph proved to be an indefatigable person who simply wouldn't stop. He ultimately secured a spot at Harvard, graduating in 1912. At the age of 25, Joseph was already a bank manager and started donating to the Democratic Party, setting up important political connections that would pan out pretty nicely for Joseph and his descendants.

The enterprising Joseph also married Rose Fitzgerald in 1914, according to Pittsburgh Quarterly. Though Joseph's father had been involved in political circles, Rose's father was none other than the mayor of Boston. Simply put, her family was better-connected than his own. That didn't mean the Fitzgeralds were happy to see their daughter married off to an energetic nobody (never mind that Joseph's father, Patrick, was a small-time politician himself). Rose's father, John, sent her off to a European convent school for a year, apparently banking that the considerable distance would cool off her relationship with Joseph. Clearly, it didn't work.

Their marriage set off a lifetime of establishing important social connections for Joseph, though Rose would be left to play a compliant political wife, raising nine children and turning a blind eye to her husband's affairs.

What is the true source of the Kennedy family’s wealth?

Dear Cecil:

What is the true source of the wealth of the Kennedy family of Hyannis, Massachusetts? I have heard several stories about Joe Senior having made a killing in Prohibition rum, sleazy stock market practices, or the Boston construction industry. I heard the other day that he made the seed money for all this by selling opium to China, and that takes the cake. Also, what is the Kennedy money doing today? Besides the Democratic party, is there a family business? Do they have a foundation or something? Why don't I see the Kennedy Trust as a sponsor of quality public television?

Peter Greenberg, Jackson Heights, New York

Cecil doesn’t ordinarily go in for this People magazine stuff, but Lord knows I like dishing the dirt as much as the next guy, and Joe Kennedy is a target the size of all outdoors.

J.P. was what we call an operator. He made his money by (1) pulling various hustles before it had occurred to anyone to make them illegal, and (2) possibly pulling other hustles that were definitely illegal but generally winked at. His stock-market shenanigans were an example of the former, his Prohibition liquor business (never proven, by the way) an example of the latter. That said, let’s not get ridiculous. He didn’t sell opium to the Chinese the British did. Nineteenth century. Very famous. Trust me.

Joseph P. Kennedy was the ambitious son of a prosperous Boston saloon keeper and ward boss. He married the mayor’s daughter, went to Harvard, and generally made the most of his ample connections and talent. He ran a bank (admittedly two-bit) at 25, and was number-two man at a shipyard with more than 2,000 workers during World War I. At 30 he became a stockbroker and made a fortune through insider trading and stock manipulation. He was a master of the stock pool, a then-legal stunt in which a few traders conspired to inflate a stock’s price, selling out just before the bubble burst.

Kennedy may also have traded in illegal booze, although the evidence is circumstantial. His father had been in the liquor business before Prohibition, and Joe himself got into it (publicly, that is) immediately after repeal. Some believe the family business simply went underground during the dry years. He may have been strictly a nickle-and-dimer Harvard classmates say he supplied the illicit booze for alumni events.

But there might have been more to it than that. In 1973 mob boss Frank Costello said he and Kennedy had been bootlegging partners. Other underworld figures have also claimed Joe was in pretty deep. At least one writer (Davis, 1984) thinks bootlegging enabled Joe to earn his initial financial stake, but that’s hard to believe he had plenty of chances to make money more or less legally.

Whatever the truth of the matter, Kennedy’s real strength wasn’t his alleged criminal ties but his business smarts, notably an exquisite sense of timing. In the mid-1920s he became a movie mogul (taking time out for a celebrated dalliance with Gloria Swanson), then organized a merger and sold out just when the industry was consolidating, clearing five to six million dollars all told. He pulled out of stocks early in 1929 and sold short following the crash, actually making money while others got creamed. Just before Prohibition was repealed he lined up several lucrative liquor-importing deals.

By the 1930s Kennedy was rich, but he didn’t make serious money by modern standards until he got into real estate in a big way during World War II, raking in an estimated $100 million. In 1945 he made the deal that remains the centerpiece of the Kennedy fortune: for a measly $12.5 million he bought the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, a huge wholesale emporium that had cost $30 million to build. Within a few years the annual gross in rent exceeded the purchase price. In 1957 Fortune declared Kennedy one of the richest men in America, with assets of 200 to 400 million bucks.

The Kennedy family’s wide-ranging business affairs are now run by hirelings at Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises in New York. Joe did establish a number of charitable ventures, several of which help retarded children (his daughter Rosemary was retarded). But he put most of his money in trust for his family. Being the odd combination of stud and monomaniacal family man that he was, he figured his real legacy to the country was the fruit of his loins.

  • Three months after Joe Kennedy hired Janet Des Rosiers as his secretary, he seduced her
  • 'The lovemaking went on for hours,' she said. 'There was joy and ecstasy and giggles, eating chocolate cake and drinking milk at midnight'
  • 'I used to massage Joe's scalp and neck with Rose in the living room'
  • Rose would spend millions on her dresses and then get upset if a servant was paid for an hour he didn't work
  • After Des Rosiers left Joe, she went to work for JFK andoften massaged his feet and hands behind closed doors
  • JFK gave her a printed napkin that said, 'Don't you think it's about time you found me attractive?'
  • Des Rosiers says she wasn't interestedin Joe's son

Published: 16:29 BST, 1 December 2015 | Updated: 21:21 BST, 1 December 2015

Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, is the New York Times bestselling author of 20 books, including 'The Sins of the Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Dynasty He Founded' and most recently 'The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents.'

During his lifetime, Joseph P. Kennedy, the founder of the Kennedy dynasty, was described in print as a Horatio Alger hero and chaste Roman Catholic. The former U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, who died in 1969 at the age of 81, was usually pictured with his wife Rose and one or more of his nine children, including President John F. Kennedy.

Published pictures never showed his well-sculpted, green-eyed Hyannis Port secretary, Janet Des Rosiers, who was his mistress for nine years. A sugar-coated, self-censored account of her affair with Joe Kennedy has appeared in her self-published book 'A Good Life.'

But when she revealed the affair for the first time in an interview for my book 'The Sins of the Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Dynasty He Founded,' Des Rosiers gave me the real story with intimate details, along with her unvarnished opinion of Rose.

No shame: Before going to a gala in Monte Carlo in 1952, Joe and Rose Kennedy posed with Janet Des Rosiers in a strapless gown with, from left, former Boston police commissioner Joseph F Timilty, Joe's lawyer Bartholomew A. Brickley and friend Arthur Houghton. The Kennedy patriarch began his affair with the 24-year-old Des Rosiers in 1948

Looker: Leggy Des Rosiers accompanied Joe to Eze-sur-Mer in southern France in 1954. Here the two had lunch with Gloria Swanson - Joe's ex-lover

At the age of 24, Janet Des Rosiers, who later married and became Janet Des Rosiers Fontaine, had a creamy complexion, green eyes, brown hair, and gorgeous legs. She never failed to get second glances. In retrospect, Des Rosiers decided, that was what Joe had been looking for in a secretary.

'He was very taken with me,' Des Rosiers recalled in her alluring voice. 'He made up his mind right then I would be his.'

In December 1948, three months after he had hired her as his secretary, Joe seduced her.

Their first encounter was in the two-bedroom house he rented for her in West Palm Beach, about 10 minutes from the Kennedy home in Palm Beach. When Joe came to see her there around 8 one evening, he began kissing and undressing her. She was not surprised. He had begun referring to her quarters as 'our' home. Their affair would last three times longer than Joe's affair with actress Gloria Swanson.

When Joe seduced Des Rosiers, she was a virgin. 'Joe was not surprised that I had not had sex,' she said. 'He taught me everything.'

Des Rosiers understood that Joe could be ruthless, but she never saw that side of him.

'He was fun, he was warm, he was thoughtful, never demanding, very considerate, and very gentle,' she said. 'It wasn't very difficult to fall in love with him. He was very charming. He overwhelmed me.'

Joe and Des Rosiers would meet for assignations in her apartment in Hyannis, in the rented house in West Palm Beach, in Joe's apartment in New York or in Boston, or in Joe's villa when they traveled to the Riviera for the summer. When Joe Kennedy's wife Rose was away, as she often was, Joe would insist that Des Rosiers move into the Hyannis Port home and have sex with him in his bedroom.

All in the family: After taking the Palm Beach Biltmore Special from Palm Beach, Joe and Rose had lunch in 1954 at Hialeah racetrack in Miami with, from left, Joe's sister Loretta, Des Rosiers and Joe's friend Arthur Houghton

'Sometimes, I would just move in for a week or two,' she said. 'The servants assumed what was going on, but they all liked me. I think they were glad because they adored him, and anything that made him happy they approved of.'

Even though Joe was 60 when he and Des Rosiers began the affair, they made love as often as once a day. 'The lovemaking went on for hours,' she said. 'There was joy and ecstasy and laughter and giggles, eating chocolate cake and drinking milk at midnight in the kitchen,' Des Rosiers said.

In June 1952, Joe bought the Marlin, a 56-foot, two-propeller yacht that could reach 32 knots. Most of their lovemaking occurred there, as Frank Wirtanen piloted the boat. Back home, Rose busied herself going to church or writing reminder notes to herself.

'We used to go out on the Marlin many afternoons,' Des Rosiers recalled. 'I'd take the work and Mathilda [a maid] would pack a lunch.' After Joe dictated a few letters, they would have a Dubonnet, then a gourmet lunch. They would repair to Joe's cabin.

Sometimes they swam off a secluded Nantucket beach or went angling for blue fish. Rose hated the boat. She went out on it only once, Des Rosiers recalled.

Des Rosiers concluded that Rose was aware of Joe's affair with her and with others such as Gloria Swanson. She decided that Rose not only tolerated Joe's philandering but approved of it, since it took pressure off her.

'She must have known I was around all the time and not unattractive,' Des Rosiers said. 'I used to massage Joe's scalp and neck with Rose in the living room. I don't know what she thought her husband was made of.'

In 1953, Des Rosiers and wife Rose accompanied Joe to Hialeah racetrack, in which Joe owned an interest

Des Rosiers recalled that midway through their affair Joe, Rose, and some of Joe's friends were having lunch in the dining room in Hyannis Port. Des Rosiers was in her office off the living room, but she could hear Rose's shrill voice.

'I heard Mrs. Kennedy say, 'Men always fall in love with their secretaries.' She said it in a way so that I didn't feel any reference to me,' Des Rosiers said. 'She didn't say it with any malice. Then Joe got a very important telephone call. When he entered my office, I said jokingly, "Oh, oh, the jig's up." The man absolutely fell apart laughing. He roared out loud.'

Joe called Rose 'Mother.' He never confided in Des Rosiers what he thought of their marriage. 'I never heard him be impolite or raise his voice with her,' Des Rosiers said. 'There was no undercurrent of hostility. He seemed to respect her. They got along well, like friends. In that way, the household was amicable.

'It wasn't a normal husband-and-wife relationship. I think they had given that up a long time ago, including sex. I don't think he loved her.' In fact, they rarely kissed, and then only on the cheek.

Des Rosiers was annoyed by Rose's habit of pinning notes to herself. When Rose hassled her servants, it upset her. 'Mrs. Kennedy carried a little paper pinned to her chest, and she went from room to room looking for things that had to be done or improved upon,' Des Rosiers recalled. For example, she would write that a cushion had to be recovered or an old magazine had to be discarded.

'She believed that every free moment of your life had to be occupied with learning or work,' Des Rosiers said. 'She would be having lunch with her grandchildren, and it was like a school. Rose didn't walk into a room to relax and enjoy the setting. It was to make a note of this or that has to be done.'

Rocking the boat: Janet Des Rosiers and Joe often had sex on Joe's yacht, the Marlin

Janet loved being on the Marlin with Joe. Rose had no interest in being on the boat

Rose had a penurious streak, which often found expression in how she treated the servants.

'Did you pay her for that hour? She didn't work that hour,' Rose would tell Des Rosiers, who was paymaster as well as secretary and mistress.

'Rose was penny-wise and pound foolish,' she said. 'She would spend millions on her dresses over time, and then get upset at me if a servant was paid for an hour he didn't work.'

On a trip to France, Rose berated Des Rosiers because she had bought too many boxes of facial tissues and rolls of toilet paper to be used once they got there. 'She would pick on the help,' Des Rosiers said. 'If you're a good Christian woman, you should be compassionate toward those who serve you night and day.'

Most of all, Rose seemed concerned about her looks. She would often run around the house with a cosmetic mask on her face.

One afternoon, Joe's chauffeur was driving Joe, Rose, and Des Rosiers in Joe's Rolls-Royce in Vence in the south of France. 'We drove to Matisse's Chapel,' Des Rosiers said. 'She put a black mask over her eyes so her face muscles could relax.

'This was really beautiful scenery, which she missed.'

At the same time, Rose constantly practiced her French, using language records. Her accent remained dreadful.

Given how much time she was away from the Hyannis Port home, Des Rosiers concluded that Rose did not like to be there. 'She was at Palm Beach a lot in the winter,' she said. 'But she went to Paris a couple of times a year or to Vienna or Switzerland, always by herself. Then she went to see her mother in Boston.'

When Jack Kennedy ran for president, Des Rosiers became the stewardess and a secretary on his presidential campaign plane. On the plane, Des Rosiers often massaged Jack's feet and hands behind closed doors. JFK was married to Jackie Kennedy

When Rose was away, Janet, shown here posing outside Joe's Hyannis Port home in 1955, moved in

Family Guy

The next time you land at Logan Airport in Boston, pause a moment to reflect that you are standing on landfill annexed to what was once Noddle’s Island. Here, sometime in the late 1840s, a young escapee from the Irish potato famine named Patrick Kennedy first set foot in the New World. A cooper by trade, Patrick died of cholera in 1858 at age 35. His grandson and near namesake, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, was born in 1888  in a neighborhood now known as unfashionable East Boston. The rest, as they say, is history. In the hands of his biographer David Nasaw, it is riveting history. “The Patriarch” is a book hard to put down, a garland not lightly bestowed on a cinder block numbering 787 pages of text.

Nasaw is the Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. professor of history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Not quite as disinterested a credential as one might hope for in a Kennedy biographer, but Nasaw informs us that the family placed no restrictions on him, and allowed him unfettered access to the deepest recesses of the archive. This book is a formidable labor of six years.

Kennedyland is terrain notably susceptible to idolatry, hatemongering, whitewash, conspiracy-thinking, sensationalism and other agendas. Nasaw credibly avers that he has taken forensic pains to excise anything that could not be confirmed by primary sources. I am no historian, but the evidence appears to support his claim. His research is Robert Caro-esque barely a paragraph is not footnoted. And he is unsparing about his subject’s shortcomings, which are numerous.

Given the extraordinary sweep of Kennedy’s life — banker, Wall Street speculator, real estate baron, liquor magnate (but not bootlegger), moviemaker, Washington administrator, ambassador, paterfamilias and dynastic founder — the miracle is that Nasaw was able to tell the whole damned story in only 787 pages.

The book’s subtitle, “The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times,” is if anything an understatement. Joe Kennedy was personally involved in virtually all the history of his time. There has been no dearth of books about America’s royal family, but this one makes a solid case that the ur-Kennedy was the most fascinating of them all.

Fascinating, that is, as opposed to entirely admirable. Not that he wasn’t in ways, but boy was J.P.K. one complicated boyo. To paraphrase the heavyweight Sonny Liston’s manager: Joe Kennedy had his good points and his bad points. It’s his bad points that weren’t so good.

On the positive side of the ledger, he was an utterly devoted father. He adored his children and, when he was there — which wasn’t often — was a touchy-feely, hands-on daddy. When he wasn’t there, he regularly wrote them all copious letters. He superintended every aspect of their lives. And in his own highly idiosyncratic way, he was a devoted husband to his wife, Rose, a priggish, pious, humorless and deeply boring woman, while conducting conspicuous affairs with Gloria Swanson, Clare Boothe Luce and “hundreds” of other women.

Also on the positive side: he was a genius at management and organization a Midas at moneymaking. He amassed his immense fortune without even seeming to break a sweat. As a Wall Street manipulator, he was involved in some shameful episodes but he was also the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and headed up the Maritime Commission at critical times in the nation’s history. At these enormous tasks he performed tirelessly and valiantly.


As for the not-so-good part: he was a deplorable and disastrous United States ambassador to the Court of St. James’s during the crucial prewar period. One ought to refrain from smug judgments on the commonplace biases of prior generations. Kennedy was culturally anti-Semitic, but over time his anti-Semitism metastasized into a grotesque and paranoid obsession.

His isolationism was formidable and adamant, but in that, too, he was hardly unique. A lot of Americans, notably Charles Lindbergh, wanted to keep America out of another European war. But Kennedy’s relentless drive to appease — indeed, reward — tyranny was monomaniacal, preposterous and dangerous. In his view, Hitler was really just another businessman with whom a deal could be struck. Here his business genius impelled him in a direction that would have led to hell.

But it was his profound defeatism, a trait seemingly contrary to his talent for rising to a challenge and getting things done, that was so — to quote from the subtitle — remarkable. At one point we see him fulminating at the Royal Air Force. Why, you may ask, is Ambassador Kennedy in such a rage? (“Yet another rage” would be more accurate, for you can open “The Patriarch” to almost any page and find him spluttering in fury, indignation or resentment. Or all three.) Well, the answer is that he was livid at the R.A.F. for winning the Battle of Britain and thus halting the German invasion of England. No, Nasaw is not making this up. You see, all that those brave young men in their Spitfires had really accomplished was “prolonging” Britain’s inevitable defeat. One rubs one’s eyes in disbelief. Next to Joe Kennedy, Cassandra was Pollyanna.

As the saying goes, to be Irish is to know that sooner or later the world will break your heart. Daniel Patrick Moynihan adduced this chestnut of Hibernian Weltschmerz on Nov. 22, 1963, upon the assassination of the patriarch’s son. Nevertheless, for someone on whom the gods had lavished every blessing — as well as one hell of a lot of the proverbial “luck of the Irish” — Joe Kennedy was possessed of a pessimism that ran deeper than the Mariana Trench. And yet — and yet — in the end, his suspicion that the cosmic deck was stacked against him was weirdly and tragically validated. When, in 1969, this vibrantly alive man, who over a lifetime generated more energy than a nuclear reactor, died after eight years as a drooling, stroke-afflicted paralytic able to utter only one word — “No!” — he had outlived four of his beloved nine children.

His firstborn son and namesake was taken from him by the war he had so desperately tried to avert. His most cherished daughter, Kathleen, known as Kick, went down in a private plane that had no business being aloft in dangerous weather (a recurring Kennedy tragic theme). Two more sons were gruesomely murdered in public. Then there was the daughter, also much loved, whose life was permanently destroyed by a botched, if well-intentioned, lobotomy that her father had authorized.

The invalid patriarch was told about the assassinations of his sons. Nasaw does not reveal whether he was told about his remaining son’s rendezvous with karma at Chappaquiddick. Probably not and probably just as well. His devastation was already consummate. To whom the gods had given much, the gods had taken away much more.

The dominant animus in Joe Kennedy’s life was his Irish Catholic identity. (Identity, as distinct from his religious faith.) He was born into comfortable circumstances, went to Boston Latin and Harvard (Robert Benchley was a classmate and friend). But as a native of East Boston, he was permanently stamped as an outsider. He could never hope to aspire to the status of “proper Bostonian.” This exclusion, harnessed to a brilliant mind and steel determination, fired the dynamo of his ambition.

One of the more arresting sections of the book is the betrayal — and it was certainly that, in Joe Kennedy’s view — by the Roman Catholic Church when his son was trying to become the first Irish Catholic president. The Catholic press relentlessly criticized John, while the church higher-ups sat on their cassocks, murmuring orisons for a Quaker candidate.

Nasaw cites a 1966 oral history by Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston, an intimate Kennedy friend and beneficiary: “Some of the hierarchy . . . were not in favor of John F. Kennedy being elected president. They feared the time had not arrived when a president who was a Catholic could be elected.” This reticence may remind some of the modern-day reservations expressed in quarters of the American Jewish community that a Jewish president might exacerbate and inflame anti-Semitism. Many blacks had similar reservations about Barack Obama when he first decided to run for president.

Kennedy’s Irish Catholicism, his ­outsider-ness, both paralleled and reinforced his anti-Semitism. He identified with Jews, to a degree. They, like the Irish, were an oppressed people who had also been persecuted for their religion. But in  Kennedy’s view the Irish had fled their holocaust in Ireland and found haven in the New World. Now, in the 1930s, the Jews were trying to draw the entire world into a war.

Kennedy was not indifferent to the plight of European Jewry. Indeed, he tried hard to achieve some international consensus on establishing new Jewish homelands somewhere in the British Empire. His motives were more tactical than humanitarian: if European Jews could be removed from the equation, then perhaps Hitler would have his Lebensraum and . . . chill.

Back home, Kennedy shared the extremist consensus that Franklin Roose­velt was the captive of his cabal of left-wing Jewish advisers: Felix Frankfurter, Samuel Rosenman, Bernard Baruch, Eugene Meyer, Sidney Hillman and the whole schmear. (Brainwashed, as Mitt Romney’s father might have put it.) At war’s end, even as news of the Nazi death camps was emerging, Kennedy was pounding the table and railing at the overrepresentation of Jews in the government. Nasaw writes: “The more he found himself on the outside, scorned and criticized as an appeaser, a man out of touch with reality, a traitor to the Roosevelt cause, the more he blamed the Jews.” None of this is pleasant to learn.

Kennedy’s relationship with Franklin Roosevelt is on the other hand supremely pleasant indeed, is the book’s pièce de résistance. Roosevelt’s supple handling of his volatile — make that combustible — ambassador and potential rival for the presidency in 1940 and 1944 constitutes political spectator sport of the highest order. Long before “The Godfather,” Roose­velt well grasped the idea of keeping one’s friends close, one’s enemies closer.

Roosevelt and Kennedy were “frenemies” on a grand stage, full of sound and fury, strutting and fretting, alternately cooing and hissing at each other. As president, Roosevelt held superior cards, but Kennedy played his hand craftily — up to a point. The epic poker game ended on a sad and sour note. We hear the president telling his son-in-law that all Joe really cared about deep down was preserving his vast fortune: “Sometimes I think I am 200 years older than he is.” What a tart bit of patroon snobisme. It would have confirmed Kennedy’s worst suspicions about “proper” WASP establishmentarians. Of Roosevelt’s death, Nasaw writes with Zen terseness: “The nation grieved. Joseph P. Kennedy did not.”

“Isolationist” seems a barely adequate description for Kennedy’s worldview. He opposed: the Truman Doctrine of containing Communism in Greece and Italy, the Marshall Plan, the Korean War, the creation of NATO and Congressional appropriations for military assistance overseas. Oh, and the cold war. His foreign policy essentially boiled down to: We ought to mind our own damn business. But in fairness, this debate is still going on. (See Paul, Ron.)

Perhaps most stunningly, his pessimism could not even be assuaged by . . . victory! After the war, we find him accosting Winston Churchill, someone he abhorred: “After all, what did we accomplish by this war?” Churchill was not a man at a loss for words, but even he was momentarily flummoxed. In Kennedy’s view, it was Churchill who had foxed (the Jew-­controlled) Roosevelt into the war that had killed his son. Elsewhere we see him lambasting — again, Nasaw is not making this up — Dwight Eisenhower, who favored retaining American troops in Europe. Kennedy “was aggressive, relentless, without a hint of deference to the general, who was arguably the most popular and respected American on two continents.” Kennedy did not know Yiddish, but he did not lack for chutzpah.

And rage. Nasaw cites an oral history — though he advises that we approach it with caution — in which Kennedy is described as browbeating Harry Truman: “Harry, what the hell are you doing campaigning for that crippled son of a bitch that killed my son?”

(A strange omission in the book: Roose­velt’s son Elliott was on the bombing mission in which Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. was killed. Elliott’s plane was following behind Joe Jr.’s to photograph the operation when Joe Jr.’s bomber suddenly exploded, perhaps because of an electrical or radio signal malfunction. Surely this “Iliad”-level detail — Roosevelt’s son possibly witnessing the death of Kennedy’s son — was worth including?)

Kennedy was a man of uncanny abilities, but among them was a talent for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. And here we — or rather, Kennedy’s perspicacious biographer — arrive at the crux and fatal flaw:

“Joseph P. Kennedy had battled all his life to become an insider, to get inside the Boston banking establishment, inside Hollywood, inside the Roosevelt circle of trusted advisers. But he had never been able to accept the reality that being an ‘insider’ meant sacrificing something to the team. His sense of his own wisdom and unique talents was so overblown that he truly believed he could stake out an independent position for himself and still remain a trusted and vital part of the Roose­velt team.”

As his son indelibly put it some months before his father was struck down: “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” One wonders what was going through the mind of the patriarch, sitting a few feet away listening to that soaring sentiment as a fourth-generation Kennedy became president of the United States. After coming to know him over the course of this brilliant, compelling book, the reader might suspect that he was thinking he had done more than enough for his country. But the gods would demand even more.

The Economics of Joseph P. Kennedy, The Kennedy Family's Patriarch

Though never terribly fascinated by the Kennedy family political dynasty, stories about Joseph P. Kennedy (JPK) always interested me from an economic angle. It's said that Kennedy properly told his son Jack (JFK) that "wars are bad for business", and then the late Jude Wanniski used to write that JFK's unyielding support for the gold standard ("the foundation stone of the world's payments system") was a function of his father having drummed it into his head from early childhood.

With the above in mind, I read David Nasaw's excellent new biography of the business titan and statesman, The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy. Neither of the previously mentioned anecdotes was confirmed in the book, but that doesn't detract from an illuminating story about one of the 20th century's foremost businessmen whose insights extended well into the economic and foreign policy spheres. Readers will very much enjoy this book.

Before getting into to the economics of Kennedy, it's perhaps worthwhile to point out what surprised me within. First off, though he was certainly self-made, his early life story was hardly one marked by poverty. Kennedy's father was by most standards very well-to-do (as was wife Rose's family: William Randolph Hearst attended her debut) such that he attended Boston Latin, followed by Harvard. Kennedy was not a "bootlegger" as is often assumed, though he did start a liquor importing business as Prohibition ended, and after having made a great deal of money in banking, investing, and in movies. And while it's long been a known quantity that he was very rich, it surprised me to learn that by the 1950s he was one of the 15 richest Americans.

Back to the economics, the broad story of the Kennedy family is yet another reminder of how very much immigrants add to our culture. Kennedy's ancestors arrived in Boston from impoverished Ireland in the late 1840s.

They reached the U.S. in what Nasaw referred to as a "coffin" ship for it being the final resting place for so many. The latter was the case given the conditions on board. As Nasaw writes, "With little edible food and a minimum of potable water, hundreds of men, women, infants, and the elderly were locked together in darkened, unventilated ships' holds for weeks on end, hatches battened, with no room to stretch, no decent air to breathe. " You get the picture. Without defending the suffering endured by 19th century U.S. immigrants, the simple truth is that the conditions they survived spoke to very ambitious people willing to go through a lot just to make it here. Immigrants are treasures for what their sacrifices say about their ambition. We need more of them.

The response from some readers on the immigration issue might be that we can't have open borders today given the cost of the welfare state, not to mention how the arrival of the unwashed will alter electoral dynamics. To these objections I would answer that the objections themselves point to a problem of welfare being offered by government at all, along with a government that does too much such that individuals irrespective of nationality feel the need to shape it.

Taking the issue of ethnic influence further, Nasaw makes clear ("Their fear was that the Irish, with political control of the city government and the school committee, would funnel money from public to private schools") that in the late 19th century, Protestants in Boston feared the rising influence of Irish immigrants. And then as readers doubtless know, a century later it was Mexican immigrants whose influence some natives feared. It was overdone then, and presumably is overdone today. From this writer's perspective, immigrants remain a source of ambitious renewal in a country that desperately needs just that. After that, anyone who spends any time in Las Vegas might agree that there's often nothing very special about natives.

Of course as a striver from a well-to-do but very Irish family, his father's wealth didn't shield Kennedy himself from discrimination. He described Boston as a "bigoted place", and evidence supports the latter contention. While at Harvard Kennedy already exhibited an entrepreneurial streak (he and a friend offered tours of the city on a bus they'd purchased), but the largely Protestant-run banks in Boston chose not to hire him such that he started out as an assistant bank examiner. Boston has been revived modernly by the rise of a technology industry fed by MIT and the rest of the city's top schools, but in Kennedy's era its decline relative to the meritocracy (Kennedy's own family, including JFK, mostly lived in New York, not Boston) that was and is New York was very real. Discrimination shouldn't be against the law with individual freedom in mind, but as Kennedy's story reveals, it's very expensive, and as such, likely wouldn't exist even in the absence of superflous laws against it.

As for Kennedy's politics, it might surprise readers to learn that they were Republican. Going back to the 1920s, Kennedy wrote to a colleague "Unless your friends in New York strong-arm this market and elect Calvin Coolidge president, I think we are in for it." Kennedy's membership in the Democratic Party was more a function of it being seemingly more hospitable to someone of his Irish Catholic background, plus Nasaw makes it apparent that Kennedy gravely feared the Great Depression would end capitalism as we know it.

Even though Kennedy was not a big fan of FDR's economic policies, and truly loathed his decision to enter what became World War II (more on that later), as Arthur Schlesinger (eerily foretelling a similar utterance by Rahm Emmanuel in 2008) wrote about the Great Depression, it offered "radicalism its long awaited chance." Lost on Schlesinger, and apparently Kennedy too was that Herbert Hoover's, then Roosevelt's anti-Depression policies were the certain causes of same, yet Kennedy (wrongly in this writer's estimation) felt FDR's shackling of the capitalist system was necessary in order to save it.

To read Nasaw's description of FDR's agenda is to be very much reminded how history at the very least rhymes. As Nasaw put it, under FDR "Any solution to the crisis involved some combination of increasing farmer purchasing power, assisting homeowners in preventing mortgage foreclosures, stimulating the sale of goods overseas, and expanding government planning and regulation. Only government action from the top down was going to get the economy moving again. " Early in his own administration President Obama asserted that "The federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back to life." You decide.

Also, and this doesn't speak well of Kennedy, it was apparent that having made a lot of money he sought the power and influence that could be his for thriving in government, and for his kids making politics their life's work. Though he had libertarian leanings, JPK wasn't pure, but also was in no way a lefty or a communist sympathizer. Nasaw notes that upon return from his gap year, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. was "full of these ideas about the superiority of the communist system. over the capitalist system." Joseph Kennedy Sr.'s response to his naïve son was "When you sell your car, and sell your boat, and sell your house, you can talk to me about that, but otherwise I don't want to hear any more about it in this house!"

After that, there are a few times in Nasaw's book where he alludes to Kennedy losing faith in the capitalist system, plus in Michael Knox Beran's The Last Patrician the reader is exposed to a particularly objectionable comment from him about the wonder's of planning from the Commanding Heights, but it's apparent that overall Kennedy was a free marketeer his public lurches toward state intervention driven once again by his Bismarckian belief that the anti-capitalist crazies needed to be thrown a few bones so that capitalism could be saved. Kennedy's God beyond success and political power for his kids was the preservation of the fortune he'd made, and that he wanted to pass on to future generations of Kennedys.

Kennedy as mentioned made a lot of money in the movie business, and it's notable that his frequent journey's out west took over three days by train. Those who should know better, including Obama, often decry economic progress for it supposedly driving up unemployment, but they're wrong. No doubt many more Americans were employed in shuttling Americans like Kennedy back and forth from Hollywood way back when, but far from an economic positive, this waste of labor was an economic weight thankfully erased eventually by airplanes. Though most economists and most every politician is loath to admit it, economic growth is about relentless job destruction, not job creation.

Where The Patriarch really flies in an economic sense concerns World War II. Ultimately to great ridicule Kennedy was against it, but it says here he was correct.

Seeing much of life through an economic prism he wrote that "I can't see any use in everybody in Europe going busted and having communism run riot." The perhaps logical response to the latter is that absent war, Germany would have conquered much of the continent. That's an easy assumption, but Kennedy persuasively argued that "the economics of Germany would have taken care of Hitler long before this if he didn't have a chance to wave that flag every once in a while. " Kennedy further noted that "Hitler and the Nazis could not last forever and that there was bound to be a change in regime in Germany one day if we had only let it alone.

It was called appeasement at the time, and still is today, but Kennedy and ex-President Hoover wanted a negotiated peace before "Europe's great cities were reduced ‘to rubble heaps.'" In short, quite unlike the very unwise Paul Krugman (and the economics profession more broadly) which horrifyingly sees the death, destruction and semi-autarky that is war as economically stimulative, Kennedy knew otherwise. Wars were once again "bad for business", during which men were "killed in airplanes" and businesses "were shot to pieces."

War itself was tautologically recessionary for men killing each other rather than enriching one another through trade. It was said by many, including Roosevelt, that Kennedy only cared about protecting his family's fortune from the horrors of war, but the mere fact that this very successful investor understood that fighting was anti-growth and anti-portfolio once again exposes the horrifying illogic of the modern mindset which obtusely presumes that WWII ended the Great Depression. Kennedy knew otherwise, and when he observed about war that the ones who really suffer "are the parents", he knew well of what he spoke. Indeed, Kennedy nearly lost his son Jack, his firstborn and favorite son Joe Jr. died in the European conflict (Kennedy clearly never recovered from this loss), then his daughter Kick (she later died in a plane crash in 1947) lost her husband Billy Hartington to fighting in France.

Kennedy's appeasement is mocked to this day, but from his perspective it gave England time to re-arm somewhat for a war it wasn't prepared for. Right or wrong, and the reality is that we'll never know, Kennedy felt that Neville Chamberlain's mistake was in drawing the line on Poland. Kennedy felt that if Germany's annexation of it had been allowed that Hitler would have turned toward Russia rather than invade England.

Considering the elevation of democracy, there Kennedy revealed perhaps a libertarian streak. He believed that the U.S. should stop "minding other people's business" and cease trying to "establish liberal democracy" around the world. Kennedy would have felt right at home with libertarians, American style liberals and some conservatives who similarly felt that the pains taken since 2001 to democratize the Middle East were foolish. As for foreign aid, he correctly observed in a way that would cheer many on the right that "the ALLY YOU HAVE TO BUY WILL NOT STAY BOUGHT."

Regarding communism, it should be stressed yet again that Kennedy was intent on expanding his and his children's net worth such that he was very much against it. At the same time, he had what appears at least in retrospect a very reasoned opinion. What's impressive here is that Kennedy believed his rhetoric. Having made his money in the free markets (the notion that "inside information" could have enriched him or any investor in a major way vastly overrated), and having seen the comforts that came his way thanks to the profit motive, Kennedy knew that communism was doomed to fail.

Because Kennedy intuitively knew it would fail, he felt the U.S. should "back off and ‘permit communism to have its trial.'" Furthermore, he knew that people weren't demanding communism in the post-war world as much as they were "discontented, insecure and unsettled and they embrace anything that looks like it might be better than what they have to endure. It is very easy for anybody who has a job and is getting along all right to cry for democracy. but if you cannot feed your children and you do not know where the next meal is coming from, nobody knows what kind of freak you will follow." After that, Kennedy arguably saw very correctly that "Communism was neither monolithic nor eternal", that leaders like Mao and Tito would not long take orders from Stalin, so let the horror run its course rather than quixotically tax Americans heavily to merely contain that which will die on its own.

And then straight from the libertarian camp, Kennedy understood that small government wasn't consistent with a global military presence. As he put it, "To fight dictatorship, even in a ‘cold' war, democratic governments had to employ the tools of dictatorship." Though history says he was an idealistic appeaser, it's hard not to conclude with hindsight that Kennedy was a realist who'd lost loved ones to war, didn't want others to suffer as he did, and who knew like Ronald Reagan ultimately did that communism would die of its contradictions. The response to the latter is that Reagan built up the military to fight communism, but Kennedy himself wasn't against a strong military to protect the U.S. rather he was against the global military presence that we became, and that brought with it a cruel body count in Korea, Vietnam, and now arguably, the Middle East.

Considering Kennedy's investments that made him one of the world's richest men, Nasaw notes that the patriarch "looked at the tax implications before investing in anything." Sorry Warren Buffett. And while some politicians believe that tax rates don't change behavior, Nasaw made it apparent that with the imposition of 91% income tax rates in the ‘50s that the ever clever Kennedy moved "large amounts of capital into oil and gas production to take advantage of generous depletion allowances and tax benefits." Though his stance on the gold standard was never made clear, post WWII Kennedy feared inflation, and with the latter in mind, his "spare capital" went "into real estate and oil, the soundest of investments in an inflationary economy." Worshippers of CPI to this day say there's no inflation to speak of, but screaming back at them is the fact that land and oil are once again popular investments amid a rising gold price.

About the work ethic that yielded such a grand fortune (by the '50s Fortune said he was worth $200-$400 million), Nasaw wrote that "those who had worked with him in the past marveled at the energy he expended, the impossibly long hours he kept, his ability to concentrate on several matters at once, and his capacity for juggling numbers, accounts, personalities, staffs, employees, and contracts as he flitted back and forth from office to office, city to city, coast to coast." Success is a choice when talented people work very hard. The successful don't owe us the fruits of their Herculean labor.

Joseph P. Kennedy was a remarkable man, and easily the greatest member of a family that historians will continue to analyze long after readers of David Nasaw's excellent book exit the earth. If there's a shame about the book, not to mention the life of a man marked by so much tragedy (he outlived 4 of his 9 children), it was the patriarch's view that since he'd made a fortune for his kids and future Kennedy generations, that they should, according to Nasaw, "devote themselves not to making money - he had done that for them - but to the greater good of the larger community." Total nonsense. The making of money is a near certain sign that an individual is doing something incredibly worthwhile. Kennedy earned lots of money, his life was very worthwhile as a result, and so is a read of Nasaw's highly interesting book.

Joe Kennedy's (JFK's Dad's) Good Affair

Joseph Patrick Kennedy was a complex man, as David Nasaw's bio, The Patriarch, makes clear. Joe was the father of JFK, and -- both psychologically and practically -- he enabled his son to become perhaps the most personally beloved president of the Post-War period, or of the twentieth century for that matter. Jack loved and was devoted to his father. In fact, JFK and Kennedy's other eight children were perhaps more devoted to him -- and he towards them -- than they were to Rose, their mother (about which more later).

This is the more amazing since Kennedy was largely an absent husband and father. Joe made his first fortune (followed by stocks and booze) in Hollywood films, where he repaired to screw starlets and secretaries -- and silent screen star Gloria Swanson. Kennedy's affair with Swanson, in which they also worked together, ended badly. But he was to have a much better, constructive, long-term affair with another famous woman (about which more later).

First, Nasaw's book has to labor against Kennedy's unpopular isolationist worldview, and particularly his insistence as ambassador to Great Britain at the outbreak of World War II that the US not engage against Hitler. You can see where that would leave a bad taste -- on top of which, Kennedy's battles with Jewish commentators and public figures in response to his isolationism comes awfully close to anti-Semitism.

Okay, now that we've gotten some big negatives out of the way, Kennedy's isolationism continued in the anti-communism era, which has come to make him look like something of a seer. From the earliest days of the Post-War period, Kennedy argued against engaging in the policy known as "containment" with the Soviet Union. Kennedy foresaw that communism wasn't a monolith, that Russia would fight with its satellites and with China, and China with its satellites (Kennedy opposed any American involvement in Vietnam), and that we would spill our country's coffers out in the Cold War instead of investing in infrastructure and industry -- which too has come to pass.

But this post is about Kennedy's family and love life. Although Kennedy paid detailed attention to each of his children -- advising, admonishing, supporting each according to his or her needs -- he was only occasionally in the same place as they were. Instead, he preferred to hang out in Palm Beach with his cronies and rich people, playing golf and doing whatever. Oddly, one of the few times he lived for a period with his children was when he moved the whole family to London during his ambassadorship. But that was short lived, since he had to return everyone but himself to the States with the outbreak of the war and the subsequent bombing of London.

But this post isn't so much about Kennedy as parent, which is affecting and heat breaking: Kennedy was never the same after oldest son Joe Jr. was killed on a suicide mission early in the War Kennedy was constantly attentive to Rosemary, his mentally challenged daughter, until he had her lobotomized on medical advice -- after which he (and the rest of the family) wouldn't see her. Yes, Rose abandoned Rosemary too. Rose did quite a bit of absentia parenting herself (without the screwing). What's more, Rose practically disowned daughter Kathleen ("Kick") for marrying a Protestant (thank God he wasn't a Jew!), while Kennedy made peace with his daughter's "rebellion" (soon after which, tragically, Kick died with her husband in a plane crash).

Throughout these events and others, Kennedy maintained a positive -- even a loving -- relationship with Rose. In his memoir, Ted Kennedy said he never saw his parents quarrel. Joe often wrote Rose longing, emotive letters, even as they rarely spent much time together. Oh, Kennedy's affairs. Kennedy's best-known mistress, Swanson, resented that Kennedy profited from their association while she fell into financial ruin, for which she never forgave him. But Kennedy had a satisfying, productive, and mature long-term affair with another world figure. This was Clare Boothe Luce, actress, playwright, congresswoman, ambassador to Italy, and wife of Henry Luce, publisher of Time and Life (as well as Fortune) when these were America's most influential popular periodicals.

Henry and Clare were sexually incompatible -- or at least non-exclusive -- and Kennedy became acquainted with Clare (and her husband) in London. The time when Kennedy met Luce, after a lifetime of triumphs (among many, Kennedy had been successful as the first director of the SEC and was one of Roosevelt's most trusted advisors), was to be devastating to Kennedy's reputation and life. He first lost Franklin Roosevelt's -- then the nation's -- respect due to his isolationism, which was followed by the death of his son.

And Luce was there for him. They met in various international destinations, sought advice from one another, and even traveled together with Rose! I know -- Rose was a saint. But she seems to have been genuinely untroubled by the relationship. Luce's cable telling Kennedy she was returning to Europe for the opening of her hit play, The Women, expresses ardor, practical planning, and consideration for Rose: "You're an angel. Make life so exciting for me. Sailing June first for Paris, then London until June thirtieth. Will you be there? Cable. Yes, do. Love to Rose."

But that's only the mind-bending beginning of that triangle. When Kennedy returned to England from the States, he wrote Rose that by some strange coincidence, Luce was on the same ship! As Kennedy wrote in his unpublished memoir, the journey was marred by "bad weather and poor food. Happily, Clare Luce was on hand. . . . Her gay conversation was a contrast to the greyness of sea and sky."

Kennedy then spent Easter of 1940 in England with Luce. During this trying period Kennedy's reputation crashed on both sides of the Atlantic. Kennedy was sure the Germans would overrun Britain with little trouble and argued vociferously that the US should remain aloof from the debacle -- not a popular position in London. Both Rose and Luce worked to rescue his reputation -- to which Luce brought to bear the resources of Time. What a winning way Kennedy must have had with women -- if not with his countrymen and the British. Perhaps Kennedy's piece de resistance was returning to the States on the same ship with both women, which Rose took without any sign of perturbance!

Throughout this period and later, Kennedy maintained a trusting relationship with Luce in which he often sought her advice and help. Luce was particularly concerned about JFK (although she was herself a Republican). In regards to Kennedy's pessimism about the war, she advised Kennedy to go easy with Jack: "It alams . . . and dispirits him." When Jack went missing after his PT boat sank, Kennedy naturally turned to Luce for help in locating his son's whereabouts and in arranging for his recuperation. For his part, Kennedy -- with his considerable political resources -- undertook a survey of her district when Luce successfully ran for Congress.

How was an ardent Catholic and devoted family man able to broaden his conception of intimacy to allow Luce to enter his heart, yet to maintain a largely separate -- but consistently supportive and helpful -- liaison for years with a woman nearly as powerful and quite as intelligent as was Kennedy himself? Unfortunately, Kennedy never discussed or provided any inward view of their affair, so we are left to imagine how he accomplished this psychologically, which might have been among his most noteworthy accomplishments.


by Glennon Doyle ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2020

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

How Joseph Kennedy Made His Fortune (Hint: It Wasn’t Bootlegging) - HISTORY


Someone said people from MA like him? We don't. He was in with the mob, for one thing. He also didn't support England prior to WWII.

He was very ambitious, pushed his kids way too hard, but he did somehow instill in them a sense of duty. And he instilled in them a sense of giving back.

BTW, he only wanted the best for poor Rosemary and back in those days lobotomy was "the best." He was trying to help her. What happened must have broken his heart.

Genealogy. The Rules--read here>>> TOS. If someone attacks you, do not reply. Hit REPORT.

Someone said people from MA like him? We don't. He was in with the mob, for one thing. He also didn't support England prior to WWII.

He was very ambitious, pushed his kids way too hard, but he did somehow instill in them a sense of duty. And he instilled in them a sense of giving back.

BTW, he only wanted the best for poor Rosemary and back in those days lobotomy was "the best." He was trying to help her. What happened must have broken his heart.

Maybe he did want the best for her ..others say she had become and embarrassment to her father as she was disappearing at night as a teenager.. but what a lovely girl and well liked too it seems. have you noticed in some photos how tall Rosemary became after the procedure.. so had a read about this..

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