Review: Ted Kennedy, in a new biography, is better — and worse — than you thought.
By DOUGLAS SANDERSON
Published: April 17, 2014
This article was originally published here.
Ted Kennedy, the beloved son of Rep. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., is much more than a political lion. He’s also an intellectual, a visionary, a writer, a politician, a family man, a family dog person. He’s a man of many interests, a man of many styles, a man of many words. He has been, in many ways, the man at the center of the American dream. But he often seems — for his critics — to be an inveterate dreamer.
Ted Kennedy, on the other hand, is not a man of many interests; nor is he a writer of many styles. He has a mind crammed with ideas, each a thought by itself; his words are often short and pithy. But he is also a man who can speak eloquently about the most intricate issues and issues which, on the surface, appear to be unimportant, or, at least, trivial to him. It is his ideas — his concepts — about what the world should be and should do that make him a force in American politics.
And his ideas are both complex and clear. They are deeply rooted in the long and often torturous campaign over which he fought to become the United States senator from Massachusetts. They were developed out of the intellectual crucible of that campaign, and his brain and heart were nourished by it. In his own words, writing as “Ted” in his new book, “A Life in the Public Interest,” Kennedy offers a full and compelling explanation for all the ups and downs of his career: “Life is a journey, and a good book provides a framework from which it can be understood.” In other words, he is at his best in an intellectual context. So too is Ted Kennedy at his best when he is telling the story of what he has learned through his years in politics.
“A Life in the Public Interest” begins in 1961, when he was just 23, when, as a young Harvard Law School graduate, Kennedy was tapped