Ted Kennedy is a biography of one of modern America's most fascinating and consequential political figures, drawing on important new sources, by the biographer who covered Kennedy closely for many years.
A life so consequential, and by turns tragic and triumphant, is catnip for biographers. Yet when an editor asked John A. Farrell to tell Kennedy’s story, Farrell wondered: Is there anything fresh to say? ... He correctly decided there was ... The book is perhaps strongest in Farrell’s accounting of the complex relationship between Kennedy and Nixon ... No hagiography ... The many paradoxes of Ted Kennedy are reflected here.
Teddy lived long enough for his flaws to be fully exposed. All are laid bare in this book — the drinking, the infidelity, the selfishness, the casual cruelty, the emotional isolation ... More than just a personal profile, Farrell’s book revisits the origins of policy debates that still divide the country ... Farrell mined historical archives from North Carolina to Kansas to California and many points in between. The result of his research is nearly 600 pages — not counting an extensive index and collection of source notes — that burst with detail ... Farrell manages to unearth new tidbits about one of the most scrutinized lives in American politics.
Farrell writes briskly and clearly, and despite its girth his book never feels overlong or uninteresting. Sometimes, indeed, one craves more ... Farrell [links] Kennedy’s personal travails to liberalism’s woes in these years. The strained claim is unpersuasive, even glib.