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Edward M. Kennedy

An Oral History

Barbara A. Perry

Publication Date - 08 February 2022

ISBN: 9780197601099

568 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

The first definitive oral history of an American icon


For Kennedy devotees, as well as readers unfamiliar with the "lion of the Senate", this book presents the compelling story of Edward Kennedy's unexpected rise to become one of the most consequential legislators in American history and a passionate defender of progressive values, achieving legislative compromises across the partisan divide.

What distinguishes Edward Kennedy: An Oral History is the nuanced detail that emerges from the senator's never-before published, complete descriptions of his life and work, placed alongside the observations of his friends, family, and associates.

The senator's twenty released interviews reveal, in his own voice, the stories of Kennedy triumph and tragedy--from the Oval Office to the waters of Chappaquiddick. Spanning the presidencies of JFK to Barack Obama, Edward Kennedy was an iconic player in American political life, the youngest sibling of America's most powerful dynasty; he candidly addresses this role: his legislative accomplishments and failures, his unsuccessful run for the White House, his impact on the Supreme Court, his observations on Washington gridlock, and his personal faults.

The interviews and introductions to them create an unsurpassed and illuminating volume. Gathered as part of the massive Edward Kennedy Oral History Project, conducted by the University of Virginia's Miller Center, the senator's interviews allow readers to see how oral history can evolve over a three-year period, drawing out additional details as the interviewee becomes increasingly comfortable with the process and the interviewer. Yet, given the Kennedys' well-known penchant for image creation, what the senator doesn't say or how he says what he chooses to include, is often more revealing than a simple declarative statement.


  • First book based solely on Edward Kennedy's definitive oral history
  • Presents the complete record of his released interviews
  • Provides insights from his family members, colleagues, allies, adversaries, and friends
  • Argues that he was a "bi-partisan partisan," who maintained his progressive values, while forging policy compromises with Republican legislators and presidents

About the Author(s)

Barbara A. Perry, a well-known authority on the Kennedys, is the director of Presidential Studies and co-chair of the Presidential Oral History Program at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, where she completed the Edward Kennedy Oral History Project. She is the author of Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch and Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady of the New Frontier.

Table of Contents

    Editorial Note

    Chapter 1: Growing up Kennedy: Lessons from a Political Dynasty
    Chapter 2: The Making of a President: Campaigning for JFK and a Brother in the White House
    Chapter 3: Joining the Family Business: Teddy Goes to the Senate
    Chapter 4: Striving for Equality: Civil Rights-The Work Begins
    Chapter 5: Striving for Equality: Civil Rights-The Cause Continues
    Chapter 6: Transforming from Hawk to Dove: The Vietnam Dilemma
    Chapter 7: Trying to Restore Camelot: Bobby's 1968 Presidential Campaign and Its Aftermath
    Chapter 8: Challenging a President: The Quest for the 1980 Nomination
    Chapter 9: Shaping the Supreme Court: Judicial Appointment Battles
    Chapter 10: Holding on to a Senate Seat: The 1994 Campaign Struggle
    Chapter 11: Pursuing Peace: Kennedy's Irish-Catholic Roots and Northern Ireland
    Chapter 12: Creating a Melting Pot: Immigration
    Chapter 13: Escaping a Quagmire: The Iraq War
    Chapter 14: Fighting for Universal Health Care: The Dream of a Lifetime
    Chapter 15: Coming Home to Port: Summaries of a Historic Life

    Epilogue: Observations on Oral History
    Appendix: List of Edward M. Kennedy Oral History Project Interviews

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