Meticulously researched both here and abroad, The Kennedys examines the Kennedy’s as exemplars of the Irish Catholic experience. Beginning with Patrick Kennedy’s arrival in the Brahmin world of Boston in 1848, Maier delves into the deeper currents of the often spectacular Kennedy story, and the ways in which their immigrant background shaped their values-and in turn twentieth-century America-for over five generations. As the first and only Roman Catholic ever elected to high national office in this country, JFK’s pioneering campaign for president rested on a tradition of navigating a cultural divide that began when Joseph Kennedy shed the brogues of the old country in order to get ahead on Wall Street. Whether studied exercise in cultural self-denial or sheer pragmatism, their movements mirror that of countless of other, albeit less storied, American families. But as much as the Kennedys distanced themselves from their religion and ethnic heritage on the public stage, Maier shows how Irish Catholicism informed many of their most well-known political decisions and stances. From their support of civil rights, to Joe Kennedy’s tight relationship with Pope Pius XII and FDR, the impact of their personal family history on the national scene is without question-and makes for an immensely compelling narrative. Bringing together extensive new research in both Ireland and the United States, several exclusive interviews, as well as his own perspective as an Irish-American, Maier’s original approach to the Kennedy era brilliantly illustrates the defining role of the immigrant experience for the country’s foremost political dynasty.

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