David's Reviews > True Compass: A Memoir

True Compass by Edward M. Kennedy
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's review
Dec 31, 2009

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Read in December, 2009

Ted Kennedy wrote this memoir during the final months of his life, knowing he was dying of cancer. At times the book seems sincere and personal, but at times it seemed to be a heavily-edited compilation from other historic sources by a not-so-subtle co-author - hence less a convincing memoir than a political biography.

I did enjoy the personal glimpses particularly of the early years: what it meant to grow up a Kennedy in Hyannis Port, the legacy of powerful parents and the charismatic older brothers, a life of wealth and prestige. Young Teddy idolized his brothers and was "groomed" by them in many ways. He gives very personal and touching responses to the deaths of Jack and Bobby.

Kennedy doesn't skip over some of the well-known mistakes of his life: cheating at Harvard that got him expelled, the accident at Chappaquiddick, divorce, drinking problems, etc. He tries to show how he learned from his mistakes and was a better man for them.

Most of the latter part of the book either bored or annoyed me. It's so heavily political, and bogs down in what came across to me as self-serving descriptions of travels, legislative activities, policy debates, etc.
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