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The first Kennedys : the humble roots of an American dynasty
2022
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Publishers Weekly Reviews

Journalist Thompson (Hurricane Season) delivers an illuminating look at the earliest years of the Kennedy family in America. Thompson traces the family's U.S. roots back to Bridget Murphy (c. 1825–1888), who left Ireland for Boston in the late 1840s and found work as a servant before marrying fellow countryman Patrick Kennedy. They had five children before Patrick died of consumption in 1858. Instead of returning to domestic service, Murphy became "a proper wage earner, an entrepreneur, and even a landlord, at a time when most women needed a husband's permission and a special license to open a business." The skills she acquired—and the money she lent him—benefited her only surviving son, P.J., whose career as a saloon owner, liquor importer, and Democratic party boss made him "one of the wealthiest and most influential men on the island of East Boston." P.J.'s successes paved the way, in turn, for his son, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., to make his fortune as an investor and film producer and help establish the political careers of his sons John, Robert, and Ted. Thompson is especially good at evoking the hardships Murphy endured and placing them in the context of the 19th-century Irish experience. The result is an engrossing, real-life rags-to-riches tale. (Feb.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Annotations

Today, we remember the Kennedys as an iconic American family - the vanguard of wealth, power, and style, rather than as the descendants of poor immigrants. Based on genealogical breakthroughs and previously unreleased records, this is the first book to explore the inspiring story of the poor Irish refugee couple, Patrick and Bridget Kennedy, who escaped famine, created a life together in a city hostile to Irish, immigrants, and Catholics, and launched the Kennedy dynasty in America. - (Baker & Taylor)

Based on genealogical breakthroughs and previously unreleased records, here, for the first time, is the inspiring story of the poor Irish refugee couple who launched the Kennedy dynasty in America. 40,000 first printing. Illustrations. - (Baker & Taylor)

“Here is that rare thing: an untold chapter in the Kennedy saga. . .Compelling and illuminating.”—Jon Meacham

Based on genealogical breakthroughs and previously unreleased records, this is the first book to explore the inspiring story of the poor Irish refugee couple who escaped famine; created a life together in a city hostile to Irish, immigrants, and Catholics; and launched the Kennedy dynasty in America.

Their Irish ancestry was a hallmark of the Kennedys’ initial political profile, as JFK leveraged his working-class roots to connect with blue-collar voters. Today, we remember this iconic American family as the vanguard of wealth, power, and style rather than as the descendants of poor immigrants. Here at last, we meet the first American Kennedys, Patrick and Bridget, who arrived as many thousands of others did following the Great Famine—penniless and hungry. Less than a decade after their marriage in Boston, Patrick’s sudden death left Bridget to raise their children single-handedly. Her rise from housemaid to shop owner in the face of rampant poverty and discrimination kept her family intact, allowing her only son P.J. to become a successful saloon owner and businessman. P.J. went on to become the first American Kennedy elected to public office—the first of many.

Written by the grandson of an Irish immigrant couple and based on first-ever access to P.J. Kennedy’s private papers, The First Kennedys is a story of sacrifice and survival, resistance and reinvention: an American story.

- (HARPERCOLL)

Based on genealogical breakthroughs and previously unreleased records, this is the first book to explore the inspiring story of the poor Irish refugee couple who escaped famine, created a life together in a city hostile to Irish, immigrants, and Catholics, and launched the Kennedy dynasty in America.

Their Irish ancestry was a hallmark of the Kennedys’ initial political profile, as JFK leveraged his working-class roots to connect with blue-collar voters. Today, we remember this iconic American family as the vanguard of wealth, power, and style rather than as the descendants of poor immigrants. Here at last, we meet the first American Kennedys, Patrick and Bridget, who arrived as many thousands of others did following the Great Famine—penniless and hungry. Less than a decade after their marriage in Boston, Patrick’s sudden death left Bridget to raise their children single-handedly. Her rise from housemaid to shop owner in the face of rampant poverty and discrimination kept her family intact, allowing her only son P.J. to become a successful saloon owner and businessman. P.J. went on to become the first American Kennedy elected to public office—the first of many.

Written by the grandson of an Irish immigrant couple and based on first-ever access to P.J. Kennedy’s private papers, The First Kennedys is a story of sacrifice and survival, resistance and reinvention: an American story.
 
- (Houghton)

Based on genealogical breakthroughs and previously unreleased records, this is the first book to explore the inspiring story of the poor Irish refugee couple who escaped famine, created a life together in a city hostile to Irish, immigrants, and Catholics, and launched the Kennedy dynasty in America.
- (Houghton)

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